Chinese anti-graft campaign has round up two fierce tigers: former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and former Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Xu Caihou.
Xu died in custody while Zhou was given the penalty of life imprisonment by court yesterday.
Reuters says in its report “China jails former security chief for life after secret trial” yesterday, “China sentenced its powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang to life in jail on Thursday, after he was found guilty at a secret trial of bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power, in China’s most sensational graft scandal in 70 years.”
Zhou submitted to the verdict and would not appeal.
Reuters says, “‘I submit myself to the verdict of the court, and I do not appeal,’ Zhou told the court, in comments carried on state television’s main evening news.
“‘I recognize the facts of my breaking the law, which has caused great losses to the party. I again admit my guilt and am penitent,’ a white-haired Zhou, who had not been seen in public since October 2013, added.”
Such a powerful elder can be subdued so easily, I guess, due to the bargain of his submission for allowing him to take responsibility of all corruption crimes committed by his wife and son so that they will be treated leniently.
Zhou’s submission is very important for Chinese President Xi Jinping to create the awe for deterrence of future corruption crimes.
It means that Xi is able not only to punish but also to make powerful corrupt officials submit meekly to the punishment. Xi has thus won decisive victory in his fight against corruption. However, he has to carry on the fight for at least two decades to eradicate corruption which has become in vogue everywhere in China.
The following is the full text of Reuters report:
China jails former security chief for life after secret trial
BEIJING By Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim Thu Jun 11, 2015
China sentenced its powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang to life in jail on Thursday, after he was found guilty at a secret trial of bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power, in China’s most sensational graft scandal in 70 years.
Zhou, who was formally charged in April, was tried in the northern city of Tianjin on May 22. He admitted his guilt and decided not to appeal against the verdict, state media said.
Zhou, 72, is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist Party swept to power in 1949. The decision to try Zhou underscores President Xi Jinping’s pledge to fight corruption at the highest levels.
“I submit myself to the verdict of the court, and I do not appeal,” Zhou told the court, in comments carried on state television’s main evening news.
“I recognize the facts of my breaking the law, which has caused great losses to the party. I again admit my guilt and am penitent,” a white-haired Zhou, who had not been seen in public since October 2013, added.
One source with the direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Zhou was guarded by soldiers rather than members of the police force he used to command.
“He was cooperative during interrogations,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “His attitude was good.”
In ordering the investigation into Zhou, Xi broke with an unwritten understanding that members of the Politburo Standing Committee would not come under such scrutiny after retirement.
Zhou’s alleged crimes took place over decades, including when he was deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), party boss in southwestern Sichuan province, minister of public security and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, according to the initial indictment.
Zhou’s wife and son, who testified via video link, took 129 million yuan ($20.78 million) in money and property, and then told Zhou after they had taken the bribes, the court found.
CNPC’s former head Jiang Jiemin also testified. Jiang, a former close associate of Zhou, went on trial in April accused of corruption, but has yet to be sentenced.
Jiang, as well a former deputy Sichuan party boss Li Chuncheng, were told by Zhou to assist in the business activities of others, helping them to illegally obtain about 2.14 billion yuan, the court found.
The page-and-a-half statement published by the official Xinhua news agency gave brief but tantalizing details of the trial, though it did not elaborate on the nature of the state secrets he leaked.
Zhou handed over six secret documents from his office to a person named Cao Yongzheng, Xinhua said. Respected Chinese business magazine Caixin has previously identified Cao as a mystic.
The government had previously said the trial would be open.
While Xi, who has pledged to go after powerful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”, will continue to press home his corruption fight, his government has other more pressing problems, such as the slowing economy and need to push through painful reforms.
“I think we still cannot talk about him having achieved an overwhelming victory,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator.
“In the past couple months, the crackdown on tigers has obviously slowed. Recently it has just been flies.”
Zhou was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee – China’s apex of power – and held the post of security tsar until he retired in 2012.
Sources with ties to the Chinese leadership have previously told Reuters that Xi has been determined to bring down Zhou for allegedly plotting appointments to retain influence ahead of the 18th Party Congress in November 2012, when Xi took over the party.
Zhou also ordered the bugging of the telephones of top leaders, the sources have said.
The government’s corruption fight has extended to almost every corner of the country, including powerful state-owned companies that dominate sectors of the economy such as energy, banking and telecommunications.
Zhou joined the Politburo Standing Committee in 2007 while also heading the central Political and Legal Affairs Committee, a sprawling body that oversees law and order policy. The security apparatus he ran expanded during his watch and consumed a budget that exceeded the official figure for military spending. He quickly earned the enmity of Chinese dissidents.
Retired legislators and lawyers have said many of the previous abuses to the rule of law in China can be attributed to Zhou, who expanded his role into one of the most powerful and controversial fiefdoms in the one-party government.
($1 = 6.2065 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)
Source: Reuters “China jails former security chief for life after secret trial”
You should be less worried about whether China will overtake us than what we’re going to do [in the United States]. Because if we do the things we need to do to get our house in order and fix our economic problems and restore our economy, we’re going to be the preeminent power for a long time. And if we don’t, we won’t.
Former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson
The above is US media Foreign Policy’s quote of Paulson’s advice on US maintaining its no. 1 position.
The media carried a report titled “Xi Jinping’s Problems Are ‘Monumental’” on Paulson’s new book, especially his views on China and its leaders. Due to his experience in doing lots of work along with Chinese leaders when he was first an international banker and then US treasury secretary, Paulson has profound insight in understanding China.
He sees Chinese President Xi Jinping’s charisma as a leader in describing Xi as “a big presence who lit up a room.”
The report quotes Paulson as saying, “I can’t think of a leader in history that is attempting to change so much for so many people on such a massive scale as Xi. He’s got the economy to reboot, he’s got an urbanization model to reboot or change, in addition to the environment to clean up, the corruption problem…. You’re talking about really [deep] reforms.”
Paulson reminded the reporter in the report: While Xi “doesn’t want our values or our form of government,” it’s also true that the problems Xi is “dealing with are very significant; they’re monumental.”
Paulson described how China learnt from the US, which enabled China to rise so drastically.
He believes that the US has to help Xi Jinping’s reform which will benefit the US.
For example, the controversial U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). He regards it as a possible agreement to liberalize mutual investment and further open China’s economy to Western competition. The report quotes him as saying, “I’m very positive about the progress so far.” “I think that the Chinese side has crossed a big threshold with their willingness to provide a negative list which essentially says, rather than having to go seek approval for every investment, these are the parts of our economy that are open and these are the parts that aren’t. Now this won’t be easy to get done. And it sure won’t be easy to get done this year. But if this is done properly and it’s a high standard BIT, it can be transformational and help open up more of the Chinese economy to competition and create more opportunities for U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.”
According to Paulson, the US shall support Xi in his reform because the problems Xi is “dealing with are very significant; they’re monumental…” “(I)f he doesn’t (succeed), it’s going to hurt us all.”
Source: Foreign Policy “Xi Jinping’s Problems Are ‘Monumental’”
Full text of the report can be found at https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/16/xi-jinpings-problems-are-monumental-henry-paulson-interview/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks&utm_campaign=Russia_Direct_April_Promo_PowerInboxRS4%2F16
Chinese authorities on Monday executed a former mining tycoon connected to the eldest son of retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, himself the focus of a high-profile corruption investigation, state media reported.
The High People’s Court in the central province of Hubei ordered the execution of Liu Han, the former chairman of unlisted Hanlong Group, who was given the death sentence last May, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The case against Liu was one of the most prominent involving a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office two years ago and began a campaign against pervasive graft.
Liu, who once ranked as China’s 230th richest person, was tried last year, along with 36 others, accused of murder and running what state media called a “mafia-style” gang.
Liu’s younger brother, Liu Wei, and three others were also executed, according to Xinhua.
China last year announced a probe into Zhou Yongkang, one of its most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its roots in a power struggle in the ruling Communist Party.
Sources have told Reuters Liu was once a business associate of Zhou’s eldest son, Zhou Bin. State media have not explicitly linked Liu’s case to Zhou Yongkang, but have said his rise coincided with Zhou’s time as Sichuan’s party boss.
The party has already gone after several of Zhou’s protégées, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises.
Source: Reuters “China executes businessman linked to former security tsar”
Reuters reports today on Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s announcement on investigation of the corruption of former president Hu Jintao’s close protégé Ling Jihua but quotes two sources with ties to the leadership as saying that Ling, who heads a party body charged with reaching out to non-Communists and holds a rank equivalent to a vice premier, may escape prosecution.
Reuters says that Xi Jinping is being fair to investigate Ling. As Xi has targeted another former president Jiang Zeming’s protégés, Xi has to investigate Ling to show that he is not targeting any specific faction.
A truely wise leader shall have vision to prevent any faction from suspecting that his punishment of any high official aims at weakening a specific faction so that his fight against corruption is but power struggle.
If the fight has been regarded as power struggle, it will give rise to a mess of political struggle in China and Xi can never succeed in eliminating rampant corruption, which may cause CCP to collapse.
In Chapter 16 “Xi Jinping Tendered His Resignation—All Elders Give Full Support for Xi Jinping Cyclone” of this blogger’s book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition, this blogger points out Xi’s difficulty in fighting corruption due to faction politics: The removal of a high official in a faction may greatly weaken it. The faction will certainly protect the official and demand a lenient punishment or even immunity. Other factions will mostly side with the faction of the guilty official for fear that it was a faction’s trick to weaken other factions one by one. The resistance of the alliance of the faction with other factions may become quite strong especially when it is joined by the quite strong conservative faction built up by Bo Xilai through his anti-organized crime and sing-red campaigns. That was also the cause for the difficulties in making the decision to punish Bo Xilai harshly. This blogger says in his book:
In order to succeed in his fight against corruption and for further reform, Xi should first of all obtain support from Jiang, the core of the CCP Dynasty and the leader of the strongest faction, who had the power similar to an emperor.
He should also win over the elders of all other factions so as to avoid encountering their resistance.
During Xi’s mysterious two-week absence, he went to all the elders to win their support in his fight against corruption and made clear to all of them that a high official of whatever faction becomes the target of his anti-corruption purely because of the official’s own corrupt crime. It has nothing to do with the power struggle to weaken the specific faction; therefore, no one shall protect the official.
As a result, Jiang Zeming took the lead not to protect his mentor’s son Bo Xilai and protégé Zhou Yongkang to show his support for Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
With all the elders’ especially the core of leadership Jiang Zemin’s support, Xi has the freedom to punish corrupt officials no mater what factions they belong to.
Therefore, it is groundless speculation that in order not to offend Hu Jintao. Ling Jihua will not be prosecuted when Ling has been found guilty.
The following is the full text of Reuters report:
China probes former senior aide to Hu Jintao over graft
China’s ruling Communist Party announced a corruption investigation into a one-time senior aide to former president Hu Jintao on Monday, as President Xi Jinping opens another front in his sweeping battle against deep-rooted graft.
In a terse and brief statement on its website, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog said that Ling Jihua was being investigated for “suspected serious discipline violations”, the usual euphemism for graft. It gave no other details.
But two sources with ties to the leadership said that Ling, who heads a party body charged with reaching out to non-Communists and holds a rank equivalent to a vice premier, may escape prosecution.
“He is under investigation, but it does not necessarily mean he will be prosecuted,” one source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“This is Xi Jinping being fair,” the source added, meaning that the president is keen to show his campaign will target anyone and that nobody is safe, no matter what their party affiliations.
Several allies of another former president, Jiang Zemin, have also been targeted, including former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.
“Xi is not targeting a specific faction,” said the second source. “Hu Jintao’s men are also being investigated.”
Ling Jihua was demoted in September 2012 after sources said his son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car.
The car, a Ferrari according to some of the sources, crashed in Beijing in March 2012 in an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party, which is sensitive to perceptions that children of top party officials live rich, privileged lifestyles completely out of touch with the masses, the sources said.
Ling was dropped from his post as head of the party’s General Office of the Central Committee, a powerful post similar to cabinet secretary in Westminster-style governments.
He was then appointed as minister for the less influential United Front Work Department, which is in charge of co-opting non-Communists, religious groups and ethnic minorities.
As of Monday evening, Ling’s picture and biography were still on the United Front’s website, implying that despite the probe he still has his job.
It was not possible to reach him for comment and it is not clear if he has a lawyer.
Speculation about Ling’s fate had been running high after a probe into his older brother, Ling Zhengce, was announced in June, for suspected “serious discipline and law violations”.
After Ling Zhengce fell, the official Xinhua news agency noted cryptically that “having somebody in the palace won’t help”, in pointed reference to his family connections.
However, last week Ling Jinhua had a 4,000 character essay published in a major party journal, Qiushi, about the importance of maintaining unity for the country’s ethnic minorities, in which he mentioned Xi’s name at least 15 times.
China’s campaign against official corruption has intensified since Xi took over as president, with several senior government figures and state company executives in detention.
Zhou’s arrest was announced earlier this month and the government is also investigating Xu Caihou, the retired deputy head of the powerful Central Military Commission.
Source: Reuters “China probes former senior aide to Hu Jintao over graft”
Source: Chan Kai Yee Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition
Related posts at tiananmenstremendousachievements.wordpress.com:
- China: Severe Anti-corruption Storm on the Horizon dated August 31, 2013
- Severe Anti-corruption Typhoon to Sweep Entire China dated November 15, 2013
- Anti-corruption Storm Sweeps the Top dated November 22, 2013
- China: Little Officials, Giant Corruption dated November 15, 2014
- China Sufficient Anti-corruption Awe by Punishing Zhou Yong Kang dated December 7, 2014
Hong Kong’s SCMP expects in its report “Zhou Yongkang can expect tougher treatment than Bo Xilai, analysts say” that Zhou will be harshly punished.
The following is the full text of the report:
Zhou Yongkang can expect tougher treatment than Bo Xilai, analysts say
State secrets claim may be cover to avoid any embarrassment from an open court hearing
Zhou Yongkang , the former security tsar and Politburo Standing Committee member, is likely to face a suspended death sentence, a tougher penalty than the one meted out to disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai , analysts say.
Announcing yesterday that Zhou had been expelled from the Communist Party and would face prosecution, Xinhua listed six key areas in which he had violated “party and organisational discipline and secrecy”.
One of those claims was leaking state secrets, which Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said could pave the way for a closed trial.
“In China, it’s very difficult to define what’s a state secret. As a former member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, anything Zhou unwittingly told anyone around him could be a ‘state secret’,” Zhang said.
He said the state secrets claim was just an excuse to depart from the open hearings of Bo’s trial. Bo was sentenced to life in prison last year on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power.
“Bo’s open hearing was not good because Bo’s public image was not destroyed by it. If Zhou doesn’t want to cooperate with the authorities, he could embarrass the central leadership,” Zhang said.
Chen Daoyin , from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the state secrets referred to in the statement could be “some internal discussions about an upcoming Politburo
“Zhou might have used his position to leak some information to officials and candidates, or even overseas media, to manipulate a reshuffle of the party leadership,” Chen said.
Zhang said a verdict against Zhou could result in anything ranging from a death sentence to a suspended death sentence. But Zhou’s execution could not be ruled out given President Xi Jinping’s “fearless political style”.
But other analysts said Zhou was likely to be given a suspended death sentence at most. “There has been an understanding in the leadership over the past few decades that the maximum punishment for corrupt senior officials is a death sentence with a few years’ probation,” Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming said.
Xinhua said the Politburo decided to hand over Zhou’s case after hearing a report on violations uncovered by the party’s anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection last December.
Zhou is so far the most senior official to be brought down since Xi declared a nationwide anti-corruption drive two years ago.
Xinhua said the investigations revealed that Zhou had abused his power to help relatives, mistresses and friends make huge business profits, resulting in serious losses of state-owned assets. It also accused Zhou of adultery with a number of women and of trading his power for sex and money.
But Chen said: “I don’t think the results of that investigation could indicate that Zhou is more evil than Bo or other disgraced senior officials. Those accusations could be applied to anyone involved in corruption.
“The downfall of Zhou and his subordinates just proves that they are losers of power struggles in the party. The accusations of economic crimes and violations of party and moral principles are just excuses to bring them down.”
Zhang Ming said all of the senior officials to fall so far had grass-roots backgrounds, and no officials and entrepreneurs with a princeling background like Xi had been investigated.
Zhang Lifan said he was disappointed that the accusations against Zhou did not reflect public complaints about Zhou’s violent suppression of civil protests during his decade at the top.
Source: SCMP “Zhou Yongkang can expect tougher treatment than Bo Xilai, analysts say”
China will set up a new anti-corruption bureau under its top prosecutor, a senior official said, in an attempt to streamline an aggressive campaign against graft.
President Xi Jinping has conducted a sweeping drive against corruption since assuming power two years ago. One of China’s most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou, and former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang are among many top officials who have been caught up in the anti-graft campaign.
Weak organizational structure and staffing limitations have plagued prosecutors’ handling of corruption cases, Qiu Xueqiang, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) deputy procurator-general, told the official Xinhua news agency.
The ruling Communist Party has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption general office under the prosecutor to fix those weaknesses, the Xinhua report published late on Sunday citied Qiu as saying.
The reforms would allow the SPP “to concentrate its energy to directly investigate big and important cases … and effectively break through institutional barriers in handling cases”, Qiu said.
“We will regard this as an opportunity to strive to make the anti-corruption office into a smart, highly effective, specialized agency with the distinguishing features of Chinese investigation that possesses formidable strength, deterrence and credibility,” he said.
The head of the agency would hold a vice ministerial rank, Qiu said, but he gave few other details.
Corruption investigations into China’s leaders are often conducted first by the party’s anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, before the cases are referred to legal authorities.
The party has struggled to contain public anger at a seemingly endless stream of corruption scandals, which Xi has said threaten its legitimacy.
In July, authorities announced an investigation into Zhou Yongkang, 71, the most senior official to be implicated in a corruption scandal since the party swept to power in 1949.
However, critics argue it would be difficult to rid the party and government of a deeply engrained corruption problem without real reforms to China’s political process.
Source: Reuters “China to set up new anti-graft office, official says”
- China: Severe Anti-corruption Storm on the Horizon dated August 31, 2013
- Severe Anti-corruption Typhoon to Sweep Entire China dated November 15, 2013
- Anti-corruption Storm Sweeps the Top dated November 22, 2013
- Can Xi Jinping Eliminate China’s Centuries-old Inveterate Corruption? dated October 25, 2014
- China’s Anti-corruption Storm to Sweet Abroad dated October 29, 2014
The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted a resolution yesterday on legal reforms for the rule of law, but failed to take any further steps to deal with former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang’s corruption case. It proves that it is easy to adopt a resolution on the rule of law but very difficult to implement the resolution. In fact, China stressed the rule of law for more than three decades since its former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping began to stress that. Jiang Zeming paid even greater attention to that and had his close protégé Wu Bangguo in charge of formulation of all the necessary laws to enable China to have a complete system of laws. In addition, China has trained a lot of legal professionals. That is certainly a great achievement, but the problem is the implementation of the rule of law. Local courts are controlled by local officials. They lack the power to enforce law. Lawyers are looked down by officials. Common people have no confidence in China’s legal system. They prefer appealing to the government through China’s letters and visits system to lawsuits at local courts. Why? Local officials are much more powerful than local courts so that they cannot get remedy from local courts. Moreover, enforcement of court verdicts is an even more serious problem. They cannot get remedy even if they have obtained favorable verdicts from the court. Even if China’s legal system does work well, there is still no full rule of law. In CCP Dynasty, Confucius’ principle “Punishment are not for nobles” still applies. The only difference is that the nobles are CCP members especially CCP officials. The current plenary session of the CCP Central Committee expelled some officials so that they can be prosecuted and punished by courts. Is that the rule of law? Certainly not. Those nobles have first to be punished by CCP discipline. Only when they have been expelled from CCP can they be punished by law, i.e. only when they have been deprived of their status as nobles can they be punished by law. However, we still shall be happy if there is real rule of law. At least, no common people are above the law and in civil litigation, officials are not above the law. As for CCP members, I hope there will be a party discipline system with transparency open to common people so that non-CCP members can sue CCP members for violation of CCP discipline. Then there will be in fact a dual rule of law, i.e. the rule of law and the rule of CCP discipline for CCP members. It seems to me that will be the best possible system in CCP Dynasty. The following is the full text of Reuters report on CCP’s resolution on the rule of law: China vows better rule of law, but no word of disgraced security chief China’s Communist Party unveiled legal reforms on Thursday aimed at giving judges more independence and limiting local officials’ influence over courts, but it made no mention of the fate of its former domestic security chief who is under investigation for corruption. The moves, made at a closed-door meeting of the ruling party’s elite, are pivotal to the workings of China’s market economy, the world’s second largest. They come at a time when slowing growth raises the prospect of more commercial disputes. The measures also reflect worries by China’s leaders about rising social unrest in recent years. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by the courts – have resulted in violent clashes between police and residents, threatening social stability. The meeting said it would improve the supervision of China’s constitution under the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament. It said the Supreme Court would also establish circuit courts in a move to boost judicial independence. The lack of detail in the announcements disappointed some China watchers, who wanted to see a bolder statement of intent. The absence of news about the investigation into Zhou Yongkang, China’s former domestic security tsar, on corruption charges, was a surprise to some, although it may come soon. Reuters reported last week that Zhou was set to be expelled from the Communist Party at the plenum, possibly paving the way for his formal prosecution. The case sent shockwaves through the country’s political establishment, and served as a warning that President Xi Jinping was serious about his anti-graft fight and that no one was above the law, not even former Politburo Standing Committee members such as Zhou. The party’s anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, will hold its fourth plenary session on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua said. Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, expected the party to give details about Zhou’s case at that meeting, and said the party would not want his case to overshadow the main gathering, called the fourth plenum. However, the plenum did formalize previously approved expulsions of several officials and executives linked to Zhou and investigated for graft. They include Li Dongsheng, former vice minister of public security; Jiang Jiemin, the former head of the state asset regulator; and Wang Yongchun, former deputy head of state energy giant China National Petroleum Corporation. Others expelled included Yang Jinshan, deputy commander of the Chengdu Military Area Command of the People’s Liberation Army; Li Chuncheng, a former party boss of the southwestern city of Chengdu; and Wan Qingliang, the former party boss of the southern city of Guangzhou. “HAIR TURNING WHITE” WAITING The four-day meeting, which takes place most years and ended on Thursday, was made up of the roughly 370-member Central Committee. This year was the first time the party made “governing the country by law” the focus of a plenum. “This is not a landmark decision, certainly it’s not a philosophical or ideological change,” said Cheng. He pointed out that the plenum reaffirmed the party will lead constitutional reform, implying that it will be above the constitution. “(But) it’s not over. It’s the beginning of China’s fight for constitutionalism. The fact that they have talked about the Constitution itself is encouraging, it leaves a lot of room for further debate,” Cheng said. Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator, said the announcements were “a major setback”. “There’s nothing new there, it’s no different from 18 years ago,” he said. “My hair has turned white while waiting for rule of law to be implemented.” Xinhua cited a statement from the plenary session as saying: “The people’s rights and interests must depend on the guarantees of the law. Legal authority depends on the people to uphold it.” The plenum said it would assess cadres according to their “compliance with the laws”, although it gave few details. It promised to improve the legal profession by recruiting qualified lawyers, judges and prosecutors. It also said it would “promote the rule of law in the army”. Xi has made weeding out corruption in the military a top goal. The announcements were emblematic of Xi’s agenda. Since he took office in March 2013, Xi, who has a doctorate in law, has vowed to put “power within the cage of regulations” and waged a war against corruption, winning over many ordinary Chinese people. He has abolished the system of forced labor camps and called for judicial independence under the party. But at the same time, his administration has detained or jailed dozens of dissidents in what some activists say is the worst suppression of human rights in years. The party has stressed that it will remain in overall control of the judiciary. For sensitive cases, such as high-level corruption or for prominent dissidents, the party will remain firmly in charge. Despite the move to implement legal reforms, few analysts expect significant political change any time soon. In April, Xi warned that copying foreign political models could be catastrophic for China. It is uncertain how much of an impact the plenum’s new policies will have. China’s laws are often not enforced and can be abused by the police. Source: Reuters “China vows better rule of law, but no word of disgraced security chief”