Has China's security chief Zhou Yongkang escaped chop?

 
China's security chief Zhou Yongkang applauds after signing an agreement on economic cooperation with Nepal, in Kathmandu, Nepal. August 16, 2011 (file photo). Zhou Yongkang appears to still be wielding power

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Have China's top leaders now settled any differences caused by the purging of Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai?

For weeks there's been speculation that the downfall of Mr Bo, an ambitious and rising Politburo member, might lead to the fall of an even more powerful figure, China's security chief, Zhou Yongkang.

That would be an event of real significance as it would signal rifts at the very top of China's Communist Party at what is a highly sensitive time, ahead of the elevation of a new generation of Communist leaders later this year.

There have been fantastical rumours of attempted coups involving Mr Zhou, and talk, last week, that he had been sidelined.

Mr Zhou is one of the nine men who sit at the very top of the Communist Party and make all the crucial decisions in the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

His job is overseeing China's enormous internal security services, from the police to the prosecutors and the courts. He controls a budget of well over $100bn (£630m) a year, more even than goes to the army.

It has been claimed that Zhou Yongkang was the only Standing Committee member to defend Bo Xilai when claims emerged that Mr Bo's wife may have been involved in the alleged murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, in China, and that Mr Bo himself may have tried to protect her from investigation.

Now there are signs that Mr Zhou may have survived what could have been a very dangerous moment for him.

'Picked unanimously'

In the cryptic way these things happen in China the signs are not easy to spot.

But late last week the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, reported on its front page that Mr Zhou had made a trip to visit the western region of Xinjiang.

The stories seemed to signal that he might still be wielding power and had not been sidelined himself.

Then it was announced Mr Zhou had been picked, unanimously, to be a delegate representing the western region of Xinjiang at the Communist Party Congress due to happen this autumn in Beijing. The Congress is where the new generation of leaders will be confirmed in post.

The news came in the Xinjiang Daily newspaper and on the website of the State Council, China's cabinet.

The fact that Mr Zhou will definitely be at the Congress seems to be a sign that he is now in the clear, and China's leaders may have papered over their differences, if indeed they had any.

As ever we don't know the full story of what has happened and what has been decided at the top level of China's leadership, if anything.

That's an odd but real characteristic of a nation of over a billion people, where the decisions and debates of the leaders carry ever greater significance for the rest of the world.

 
Damian Grammaticas, China correspondent Article written by Damian Grammaticas Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 21.

    As for the sacked Russian cellist, two factual mistakes in reporting.

    1. The guy doesn't speak fluent Chinese, but he speaks it with a very thick foreign accent. However, Westerners with no command of the Chinese language automatically qualify other foreigners, who can speak a couple of words with a heavy accent as 'fluent'. This is not the case.

    2. Anti-foreign sentiment isn't government provoked. Or was it the Chinese government putting its bare feet on top of the woman's head? No. So it's the behavior of the foreigner himself, who provokes genuine anger amongst the Chinese public.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    The people on watch after 9/11 are still in power in the good old USA.

    But China don't keep any people who fail in their jobs, unlike the USA.

    May be that's a good thing in China but not so much for the west.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Why your BBC always show these not real but disgraceful news about my country out?What is problem with you?It has been a long time i found these problem here, your website is just a tool to make China ugly.Why don't you just bomb us? Fight like a real man with guts, don't do these humiliting tricks and i think you are just insulting yourself.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 18.

    Why doesnt Chen Guangcheng defects the UK, Canada, France or Sweden? It is because USA is unfriendly towards China and want to contain the country's rise.
    If Chen Guangcheng is good enough to compete at this year's Paralympics he would want to represent USA. Only traitors can turn their back to their own kind

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 17.

    I wouldn't compare the intransparency of top-level politics between the CCP and the US or the UK. The degree is simply incomparable. It is by design of the single-party system. Saying that, as internal struggle intensifies, we do see more leaks of confusing news, which resembles the phenomenons of a multi-party system. But it is exactly the news, that distinguishes the nature of Chinese politics. They are hard to interpret, even for Chinese. One needs incredible insight of how the system works and the background of each elite to have a closer grasp.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 16.

    "He controls a budget of well over $100bn (£630m) a year..."

    Great maths. What happened to the art of editing?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 15.

    They were never going to remove the war chief who is engineering China's cold war with the US and semi hot wars with the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Brunei etc etc in the south china seas. Maybe that's why he started all these disputes, to cover his back.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    Dear China Power >1< You are quite right. I find out what is happening by reading the newspapers. I read the Chinese ones occasionally too Of course as we say in English 'you have to read between the lines' However I don't discuss what I find with my Chinese friends on the web. All Chinese leaders are very busy meeting people so I don't really know who does the 'office' work. British reporting of Chinese politics follows the UK model of speculating (currently about Cameron's 'shift in policy now a senior adviser has left) But like my Chinese friends we don't believe what they say.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    Everything appeared calm when Bo gave a press conference at the NPC, then he disappeared. I am sure, Zhou wants to be away from the Beijing at these times and he will definitely not have any sleepless nights in Xinjiang, most famous holiday destination for political prisioners in China.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    But the cannot do guy, Obama cannot do anything for the US do not get chopped and he may get another term to do nothing.

    Go figure?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    Zhou Yongkang is like UK's Theresa May occopying the Home Secretary's role. How many times has Theresa May cocked up in the last 12 months that would have merited the sack? Most recently the police whome she is charge of publicly denounced her and demand her removal.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    It seems naive of Grammaticas to take things at their surface in China. The Political & Legislative Commission that Zhou Yongkang heads is the most secretive and powerful organ of CCP in charge of controlling the mind and body of her mass population which remains at the heart of CCP since its early Yenan days. Behind Zhou are many CCP members (moast notably Jiang Zemin, Li Peng etc.) wanting to see CCP retaining "one-party dictatorship". Others may want some form of reform, breaking up the Commission with independent judicary. Surely there is massive struggle now before the leadership change.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 9.

    Ther has been a big increase in news stories concering the Chinese in recent years.
    China is becoming a world superpower and most people havent noticed.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    @ttelenr

    Wall Street Journals announced that their source about Bo's son driving Ferraris is doubtful.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    That's right, the Red Princelings crashing their Red Ferraris are more melodramatic than Gossip Girls. Xi Jinping's gang can sing better than the Sopranos. Zhou Yongkang can do a mean FBI man, and the Bo Xilai gang would have to be the dead Kennedys.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    I agree with ChinaPower. The treacherous manner in which they removed Margaret Thatcher. Lamont and John Major, or Blair-Brown. Politicians are the same all over the world.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Grammaticas must be a fan of Gossip Girl. He is actually one.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Senior Leader of Communist Party of China (CPC) Zhou Yongkang met with Abdulkadir Aksu, First Deputy Chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice & Development Party, on Thursday in Beijing. During their meeting, Zhou - member of Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, applauded Aksu's contributions to promoting ties between China & Turkey. If Zhou has lost power, it is not becoming apparent.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Speaking at Awards Ceremony to honor outstanding police officers, Zhou Yongkang - Standing Committee Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said, unique importance of maintaining stability this year should be clearly understood. Police should keep clear heads about complexity of current domestic & international situation. They should make efforts to further enhance capabilities of combating crimes, serving people & maintaining national security & social stability.
    Things seem stable to me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    China's Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang, has completed tour of the volatile region of Xinjiang to establish his FIRM GRIP on power. Though he had opposed purging of ambitious Politburo member Bo Xilai, Zhou later joined President Hu Jintao & PM for ceremony to honour police officials in the Great Hall of the People to show unity among Chinese leaders. There is no split in Communist Party leadership.

 

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