China Oil corruption: Zhou Yongkang, the backer of Bo Xilai, now ensnarled
29 July, 2011
China’s ruling Communist Party has put former security chief Zhou Yongkang — one of its most powerful men — under investigation.
Zhou had been a patron of Bo Xilai, who he is said to have backed for a slot on the PSC. Bo was jailed for life in September 2013 for corruption and abuse of power. Bo’s fall from grace, and that of his convicted murderer wife Gu Kailai, was China’s most dramatic political scandal since the trial of the Gang of Four after the Cultural Revolution. It was inevitable the Bo investigation would soon ensnarl Zhou too.
Zhou, 71, was born in the eastern industrial city of Wuxi in 1942, the son of a senior Communist defence procurement bureaucrat. Three years after entering Suzhou Middle School in 1958, he enrolled in the Beijing Petroleum Institute, now called the China University of Petroleum. He got his start in the 1970s as a technician for the Liaohe Oil Exploration Bureau in the northeastern province of Liaoning, home to China’s third-largest oil field.
In ordering the investigation of Mr. Zhou, Xi has broken with an unwritten understanding that members of the Standing Committee will not be investigated after retirement.
Two of Zhou’s former secretaries – Yu Gang and Ji Wenlin – and one of his former security guards, Tan Hong, faced charges over accepting bribes. Xinjiang’s former No 2 party official, Yang Gang, faced similar charges.
Mr. Zhou’s son, a sister-in-law and his son’s mother-in-law held assets worth some $1 billion, much of it in the oil and gas sector that was Mr. Zhou’s political fiefdom.
3/31/2014 China has seized at least $14.5 billion of assets from family and associates of the country’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang in the biggest corruption scandal since the Communist Party came to power in 1949
More than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, political allies and staff have been taken into custody or questioned.
The amount of money involved vastly exceeds the $2.7 billion of assets said in 2012 to be controlled by the family of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao.
If the reported $14.5 billion of assets were ultimately owned by Zhou and excluded debt, his fortune would rank at No. 69 on Forbes magazine’s latest tally of the world’s billionaires.
1 September 2013 Jiang Jiemin is also the subject of a corruption investigation. Until March Mr Jiang was head of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which has faced a number of corruption allegations. Another four CNPC executives were under investigation for corruption.
Historian Zhang Lifan said the investigation into Zhou showed factional struggles within the party were intensifying.
“We need to watch whether the struggle stops with Zhou. Xi might have won the ultimate victory, and it could stop there,” Zhang said. “After all, such a struggle is hurting the party, too, because it reveals to the public so many ugly things.”
[October 4 2011 Financial contagion from Chinese export dip
Now Beijing is expanding the use of the RMB in other financial centers, to allow for foreign holdings of the currency to be used for direct investment in China. According to Arvin Subramanian of the Financial Times, “the process is micro-managed, interventionist, and enclave-based – not a day seems to pass without some foreign entity, or country being granted greater but selective access to the renminbi.” Last week, the Financial Times reported that “China is for the first time to give formal backing to moves by British banks to turn the City of London into an offshore trading center for the renminbi.” Furthermore, the Economist reports that “in Singapore, banks now offer yuan deposits and bond funds. Its central bank is one of a dozen that have agreements with the Peoples Bank of China to swap their currencies for yuan.” here
As Premier Wen Jiabao famously put it back in 2007, the country’s growth is “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” In such a crisis, China’s economic weight would become a liability. The IMF estimates that the impact of Chinese demand on the world’s largest economies has more than doubled over the past decade. A deteriorating outlook for Chinese imports could send commodity prices plummeting, precipitating heavy losses for investors and risking financial contagion. more