China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang has became the latest “tiger”-not to mention the biggest-to fall amid Xi Jinping’s seemingly endless anti-corruption campaign.
One of the most powerful people in the country up until his retirement in 2012, Zhou’s political career saw him rise from an executive in the oil industry to become a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body in the country. He is the first member of the committee to stand trial for criminal charges, making the move unprecedented among the 180,000 strong list of officials taken down since Xi Jinping took over the presidency.
The charges include accepting bribes, abusing power, and intentionally leaking state secrets, for which he could face the death penalty. Zhou was formally arrested late last year, while dozens of family members and officials close to him have been detained as well, effectively reducing his sphere of influence in the country.
While this turn of events is shocking, it is far from surprising, both from abroad and from within China’s borders. Chinese citizens are angry over the long history of corruption within their country, leading to widespread support of Xi’s campaign against it. However it is also clear that the president’s intentions are more personal in nature, as he continues to eliminate anyone who could pose a challenge to his rule.
Nonetheless, something is still being done, so we can save motivations for another day.