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Top Chinese official probed over Bo Xilai links

Publication Date : 25-04-2012


The Chinese Communist Party's discipline committee has launched an investigation into its ninth-highest official over his relationship with the former chief of the party's Chongqing branch, Bo Xilai, it has been learned.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou Yongkang--a Politburo Standing Committee member who also serves as secretary of the party's Central Political and Legislative Committee--on suspicion of violating party regulations by disclosing confidential information to Bo, party sources said Monday.

Bo, 62, was recently removed from his office as party secretary for the China's most populous municipality and suspended from the party's Politburo.

It is extremely rare for an investigation to be launched against a Politburo Standing Committee member, the sources said.

But it is uncertain whether the investigation would result in disciplinary action against Zhou, 69, because President Hu Jintao must show solidarity among the party's leadership team before its 18th convention that will be held this autumn.

Some middle-class party members who have been informed about the investigation by senior officials said Zhou admitted inescapable responsibility over his relationship with Bo, but denied he was involved in any criminal activity.

Zhou is suspected of disclosing confidential information to Bo that he acquired as secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, a top position in charge of public security, according to judicial sources. This information is thought to be in connection to an investigation into the murder of a British businessman, which gained further scrutiny after Bo's close associate, a former police chief of the city, fled to the U.S. Consulate in Sichuan Province in February.

Zhou expressed support for Bo during a subcommittee meeting of the National People's Congress in Chongqing on March 8. At this stage, the party's Politburo Standing Committee was looking into the businessman's murder. Bo's wife is now being questioned over her involvement in the incident.


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