Chinese public have praised the country's anticorruption campaign and the leadership's commitment to the rule of law as Zhou Yongkang
, a former elite Party official, was sentenced to life in prison for graft charges Thursday.
A court sentenced Zhou to life imprisonment for accepting bribes, abusing his power and deliberately disclosing state secrets.
He was convicted of accepting bribes of about 130 million yuan (21.3 million US dollars) and instructing Jiang Jiemin and Li Chuncheng, also senior officials, to assist in the business activities of others, helping them to illegally obtain about 2.14 billion yuan and causing losses to the state of 1.49 billion yuan.
Zhou also leaked five "extremely confidential" documents and one "confidential" document to an unauthorized person, directly contravening the State Secrets Law.
Learning the news from TV, Zhang Shun, an oil worker from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was quite impressed.
"An official so powerful and high-ranking as Zhou would go to prison. This is a strong proof that no one can escape the punishment of law for wrongdoings. I am totally for it," said Zhang, working for the drilling team at the Daqing oil field, the same oil field that Zhou had once worked as a technician, long before he rose up to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
"If anyone still believes that he is untouchable because of having power, he had better wake up now," said Liu Yanan, a high school teacher in Kashgar of northwest China's Xinjiang.
"We ordinary people would like the country to continue catching 'tigers' and 'flies' so that all officials will give up the illusion that they can abuse their power without consequences," Liu said.
Legal experts appreciated the trial of Zhou for its strict compliance of the law and regarded it as a step forward for the rule of law in China.
Zhao Bingzhi, dean of the Law School of Beijing Normal University, told Xinhua that both the proceeding and verdict upheld the authority of law.
Although the trial was held behind closed doors, the verdict was announced immediately through mass media to ensure the public's right to know, Zhao said.
The defendant's legal rights were also fully protected as he was represented by lawyers at court and his lawyers were given full access to case files and interviewed with him, he added.
Prof. Zhu Lijia with the Chinese Academy of Governance said that Zhou's case can be a good example to show that China needs to regulate the use of power by law.
"The country still needs more systematic improvement to prevent corruption. We need to incorporate anticorruption into a broader campaign to modernize governance," he said, suggesting that an efficient legal system can better supervise the administrative power.
Civil servants and Party officials considered Zhou's trial a fair warning for not crossing the line of Party discipline and law.
Yang Tianzong, a provincial Party official from southwest China's Sichuan Province, told Xinhua that Zhou's imprisonment warned other officials again that no one is privileged in front of the law and Party discipline.
"We should learn the lesson from Zhou. We should always keep our integrity, have a firm faith and follow the Party leadership mentally, politically and in action," said Zhan Shuiqing, an official with the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee.
Party officials should be in awe of the law and always bear in mind not to interfere in judicial affairs, he said.
Yang Jianmin, an official with the Ministry of Public Security
, said Zhou's trial reminded him that law enforcement officers should set the example of abiding by the law and serving their duty in line with the law.
"We should always be clear-minded and at anytime be aware that privilege and abuse of power are not allowed," he said.
Zhou had served as secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee and minister of public security.