The mystery of China’s security tsar Zhou Yongkang

Zhou Yongkang

SCMP reports on China’s security tsar Zhou Yongkang’s speech, carried yesterday in Qiushi Journal, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s political theory magazine. SCMP says that Zhou condemns “the use of torture and the suspicious deaths of suspects” in a speech to law enforcement cadres. It is “a move seen as an attempt to distance himself from ousted Chongqing boss Bo Xilai.”

After Bo Xilai’s downfall, there have been many rumours on Zhou’s connection to and support for Bo. The most absurd was the rumour on a failed coup by Bo and Zhou. None of the rumours have been proved true, but due to entire lack of access to information about the party’s power centre, media would rather believe there were perhaps grounds for such rumours in spite of Zhou’s multiple recent public appearances.

“The speech – printed yesterday in Qiushi Journal,the party’s main political theory magazine – was the surest sign yet that Zhou has escaped any repercussions from his rumoured connections to and support for Bo,” says SCMP.

In fact, Qiushi not only prints Zhou’s article, but regards it as the first of its key articles. In the party’s 91 years of history, no leader who has lost or soon to lose power can have his article printed in the party’s major media, let alone be regarded as a key article.

However, the rumours certainly are not groundless,  or the clever, well experienced and informed journalists would not report them.

The major grounds for the rumours are first Zhou’s speech on Chongqing’s achievements on March 8, when he attended a group meeting of Chongqing deputies during the recent session of the National People’s Congress (NPC). China’s official TV media CCTV reported that in its prime-time news. The piece of news remains listed in that day’s news headlines but we cannot access to it now, though all the other pieces of the news on that day are available.

Second, media reported that in Bo’s last press conference, Bo said that Zhou was one of the six Politburo Standing Committee members who gave positive assessment to Bo’s red culture campaign. As Mao Zedong thought remains CCP’s guiding ideology, leaders had to give positive assessments even if they did not like such culture; therefore, that cannot be a strong ground.

Well-known senior journalist Nathan Gardels said in his post on April 1, “One important clue comes from reports in reputable outlets such as the New York Times and the South China Morning Post about a key meeting on March 7 in which Party elders made the decisive push to dismiss Bo.”

Obviously, the Politburo Standing Committee decided to dismiss Bo before March 7 but had to hold a meeting with party elders on March 7 to gain their support. In that case, Zhou knew long before March 8, when he attended a Chongqing meeting, that Bo would be dismissed. Why did he still praise Chongqing in the meeting?

I said in my post “Sichuan, the Best Place for a Separate Regime” on April 17, that Sichuan, including Chongqing that was formerly a major part of Sichuan, is the best place for the establishment of a separate regime due to difficult access to it from other Chinese areas. It was a separate independent state five times when China was disintegrated. The longest of them lasted from 221 to 263 AD.

Soon after the Wang Lijun incident, Bo Xilai visited the PLA field army in Yunnan to gain its support. During the NPC session, we saw top PLA general Guo Boxiong shook shake hands warmly with Bo. Bo obviously had supporters in the PLA, and was thus able to set up an independent regime in Sichuan.

To avoid potential disintegration of China, the Politburo had to wait until Bo’s arrival at Beijing to attend the NPC. It then put Bo under its secret surveillance, and cut Bo’s connections with influential officials in Chongqing, Sichuan and Yunnan. Bo could have had communicaion through talks with those who came to Beijing to attend the NPC, and by sending envoys to persuade the officials there.

When Bo failed to attend the NPC meeting in the morning of March 8, the Politburo standing committee was afraid that Bo perhaps felt insecure and might go back to Chongqing, where he might establish a separate regime. It sent Zhou that afternoon to praise Chongqing’s successes, so as to make Bo rest at ease. In addition, it decided in haste to allow Bo to hold a press conference the next day to make Bo further rest at ease. The haste caused confusion before the press conference.

Bo was clearly unaware of the decision that had already been made to dismiss him. Otherwise, he would not have displayed such ease and spoken in defence of his wife, whom he had already known was under investigation.

Zhou played the trick so well that he was mistaken as Bo’s supporter by media. Chinese history is filled with such tricks and intrigues. People familiar with Chinese history would be able to see through such tricks. However, unexpectedly, the trick caused the rumour mill to move with such vigour as to turn out sensational stories such as a coup in Beijing by Zhou and Bo. People telling the story even said that they had heard gun shots in the evening after Bo was dismissed.

On the other hand, the difficulties to clarify in spite of Zhou’s frequent public appearances indicate the party’s lack of credibility.



Categories: Politics & Law

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