Public supports Zhou probe

By Chang Meng Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-31 0:58:01

Announcement triggers deluge of investigative reports

Widespread discussions of the probe into powerful Chinese politician Zhou Yongkang continued on Wednesday, with the public lauding the anti-graft breakthrough and anticipating further systematic reform.

The statement about Zhou, released by the official Xinhua News Agency, quickly became the top trending topic on China's popular social networking platform Sina Weibo. The topic had been read over 44 million times as of late Wednesday, with some 100,000 comments.

The breaking news received overwhelming plaudits online, while many welcomed that President Xi Jinping's administration could keep its promise of cracking down on both "tigers" and "flies" and to "bring hope to the people."

Amid public praise, the People's Daily, flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), published a commentary on Wednesday, saying that nobody should "bet on the odds of escape and entertain the illusion that there is some kind of 'safe box'" when it comes to the law and discipline.

Similar comments quickly appeared on all major media outlets Tuesday night, many also carried online interactive infographics within an hour of the announcement.

These sophisticated designs, especially those developed by big news portals such as Sina and Netease, were clearly well-prepared and waiting for the news. They mostly illustrate Zhou's intricate power networks, his family members, and a timeline of the downfall of his key protégés, which led to his own investigation step by step.

Meanwhile, Zhou's name, which was a censored word on China's search engines and social networks, was unbanned almost immediately.

A large number of investigative reports digging into the power-growing and money-making history of Zhou's network, represented by a series of five stories published by, went viral online Wednesday.

Similar reports earned rare acquiescence from authorities early this year, when they used extremely obscure terms, or even Zhou Yuangen - his unknown original name - to refer to Zhou, but such references were now explicit.

The announcement of Zhou's probe came before the CPC's announcement it would hold the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee in October and discuss the rule of law. It suggests that the process of Zhou's case will be used as both a declaration and an example for the CPC to lead the country to a judicial track, said analysts.

"Zhou's probe released massive 'positive energy' among the people, which also helps to improve the credibility of the CPC," Gao Bo, an anti-graft expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

This "positive energy" was further boosted on Wednesday as the State Council announced that the country will phase out its dual-household registration system, which has divided citizens into urban or agricultural households since the 1950s and created big gaps in social welfare and resources.

The new policy, along with Zhou's probe, created a supportive atmosphere on Wednesday, with many Net users acknowledging the government's endeavor to "both fight corruption and benefit ordinary people."

Some observers of the Chinese economy also said on Wednesday that Zhou's case removed a big obstacle before the key plenary session. Zhou's fallen protégés were believed to have made fortunes out of power brokering in the oil industry and other areas. The removal of such misconduct will clear way for the capital market to develop in the future.

Despite the milestone, top authorities still regard the anti-graft campaign as "challenging" and will strengthen the high pressure, a source close to the anti-graft campaign who requested anonymity told the Global Times, citing information from a recent briefing.

Xi's campaign earned public support, but many officials only started to discipline themselves now because of the deterrent effect instead of completely reconsidering their working ethics, said the source.

As the progress of Zhou's case became the focus next, the anti-graft campaign is far from ending and further breakthroughs can be expected, Wang Zhanyang, a professor with the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

However, how the leadership will utilize the great prelude set up before the fourth plenary session and carry out concrete measures to "enact the rule of law," especially to correct improper policies that triggered social conflicts in the past decade, remains a key issue to observe in the coming months, said analysts.

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