Son's evidence nailed ex-China security czar
IN THE net that slowly tightened around former security czar Zhou Yongkang, his eldest son Zhou Bin was pivotal.
On Tuesday, the ruling Communist Party announced an investigation of Zhou Yongkang, 71, sending tremors through China's political world.
He is the most powerful figure brought down in the anti-corruption campaign by President Xi Jinping, who pledged to net both "tigers and flies", parlance for cadres from the top to bottom.
The Chinese authorities had detained the younger Zhou as he was leaving Singapore for the United States in December last year, according to Reuters.
Sources close to senior officials have said that besides Zhou Bin, other members of Zhou Yongkang's extended family, including his wife, Jia Xiaoye, a brother, Zhou Yuanqing, and a sister-in-law, Zhou Lingying, have also been detained.
A political consultant in Beijing who meets senior and mid-ranking officials said he had been told that Zhou Bin recently gave new direct evidence against his father, who, according to the consultant and other party insiders, had strongly denied any personal wrongdoing during months of detention.
The new evidence helped solidify a consensus among top leaders to announce the investigation publicly, said the consultant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardising his access to officials.
"In fact, the party wanted to make it public earlier, but they couldn't," the consultant said.
"So now they're finally able to make it public, and can breathe a sigh of relief."
Reuters reported in March that the authorities had seized assets worth at least 90 billion yuan (S$18 billion) from family members and associates of Zhou.
People who knew Zhou Bin said his accumulation of wealth had more to do with his family name than business acumen.
A source told the South China Morning Post that he would only pursue business ideas that his wife suggested.
Zhou was born in 1972, as his father - the head of China's domestic security until he retired in 2012 - was beginning to build a career in the country's state-owned oil industry.
He moved to Texas in 1993 to attend university; there, he met his wife, Huang Wan, 42, who also has a family background in oil. They relocated to Beijing in 2000 and, until last year, occupied a multi-million-pound villa in the city.
He was connected to Liu Han, a former mining magnate who was sentenced to death in May for running a billion-dollar mafia empire.
Liu is only one of the many "flies" connected to the Zhou family who were swatted before the "tiger" Zhou could be nabbed.
"There is consensus within the party that it must purge itself, and that if it doesn't then its crisis will deepen," said Kerry Brown, the director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
President Xi and his supporters concluded that Zhou and his clan "grew corrupt because they did not adhere sincerely to orthodox ideology and were looking after themselves," Mr Brown said.
"So they needed to be taken out."