BEIJING — China’s leaders said early Saturday that the country’s former domestic security chief has been arrested and expelled from the Communist Party over a long list of accusations, including accepting bribes and disclosing state secrets.
The probe into the once-powerful Zhou Yongkang has sent tremors through China’s political world.
It sets the stage for a trial that has been anticipated for more than two years and required negotiations among competing factions within the party.
Top leaders handed his case over to the courts and announced a litany of accusations through state-run media. Among the allegations: accepting huge bribes, shifting money to mistresses and relatives, abusing his office for special interests and disclosing state secrets.
If found guilty — as party officials usually are in such cases — Zhou would be China’s highest-ranking party leader to be taken down in more than two decades.
The move reflects the tenacity of President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption drive, and also his willingness to assume political risks.
Zhou spent much of the last decade as one of China’s most powerful people, controlling every aspect of the domestic security apparatus and maintaining deep, lucrative ties to China’s oil sector. By targeting him, Xi has broken an unwritten party rule against going after current or former members of the Politburo’s standing committee. Zhou was a member until 2012.
In recent years, party leaders have made a habit of releasing news they believe to be sensitive late on Fridays. The Zhou announcement was released via state-controlled Xinhua news agency just a few minutes after midnight.