A top communist official with ties to the former security czar has been dismissed and subject to an investigation, according to a brief statement in the official Chinese press recently.
Li Chongxi, the official, is most notable for being an underling close to the former security chief Zhou Yongkang. Li was the highest-level secretary to Zhou when Zhou was the Party secretary of Sichuan Province from 1999 to 2002.
For years Li was also an active participant in the campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual practice, beginning in 1999, that was organised by former Party leader Jiang Zemin. Zhou Yongkang, Li’s direct boss, was also a key official in the campaign against Falun Gong.
Until the recent leadership transition in late 2012, Zhou was one of the most powerful men in China. Over the last year the political apparatus that Zhou and his allies had built up over nearly a decade has been quietly and systematically dismantled.
The removal and investigation of Li Chongxi comes on the heels of the takedown of Li Dongsheng, who for the past 14 years has either been the deputy director or the director of the office tasked with persecuting Falun Gong. It also follows a series of investigations of other top officials, some of them in the oil sector, in Sichuan.
At the centre of the investigations stands Zhou Yongkang, who for many months has been said to be under the scrutiny of the top leadership. Commentators for Epoch Times had been predicting the downfall of Zhou since early 2012, after the scandal involving Bo Xilai, a former Politburo member, broke to the public in spectacular fashion. Epoch Times also learned from sources inside China that Zhou was being investigated.
Li Chongxi’s most recent official title was the chairman of the Sichuan Province Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is a Party-controlled advisory body.
The announcement that he was being investigated was made by an official in the Party’s “discipline inspection” department, which deals with corrupt officials. The announcement consisted of a single sentence saying that Li is being investigated because he is suspected of “serious violations of law.”
Li is now the 18th provincial-level official in China that has been dismissed and investigated over the last year, according to a summary prepared by People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party. He is the third high-ranking official in Sichuan, the former stomping ground of Zhou Yongkang, to be taken down.
According to QQ, a Chinese Web portal, that Li was under investigation has been known widely in official circles in Sichuan.
The official Chinese Communist Party line is that these cadres are being sacked and investigated on suspicion of engaging in financial corruption. In the case of Li Chongxi, and the other top Sichuan officials, such allegations may have dovetailed with the efforts to clear out the remnants of the faction organised around Jiang Zemin, the former leader, and Zhou Yongkang.
Zhou Yongkang was known to be a patron and supporter of Bo Xilai, the now-deposed Politburo member.
Li Chongxi, who is 62, has been in Chinese politics for over 30 years – but the biggest leap forward in his career came between 2000 and 2002, when he was promoted to a provincial-level post from no more than a local-level position.
Li was again promoted to be the deputy provincial secretary in 2002, before Zhou Yongkang left to the Public Security Bureau.
Li’s promotion was because he was “strongly appreciated” by Zhou Yongkang for his active role in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, according to Chen Simin, an analyst of contemporary affairs in China, writing in the Chinese edition of Epoch Times.
Though Li Chongxi held no official post in the security forces, Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website, noted in an article that he presided over key secret meetings in Sichuan to push forward the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in that province. “Sichuan became one of the most intense places for the persecution,” it said. “Li Chongxi cannot escape responsibility for that.”
Zhao Xiao, a Chinese professor, posted a picture to his Weibo account showing Zhou Yongkang on an inspection trip in Sichuan accompanied by a group of officials in 2004. To his right and behind him stands Li Chongxi. Elsewhere in the picture are Guo Yongxiang and Li Chuncheng, two other Party members who have also been purged.
Accompanying the picture, Zhao Xiao wrote: “I heard that all the high officials in this picture have been arrested except one.”