China investigates vice public security minister

AP News
Posted: Dec 20, 2013 8:24 AM

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese vice minister of public security has been placed under investigation for serious violations of laws and regulations, the ruling Communist Party said Friday amid an ongoing crackdown on corruption and swirling rumors that more senior figures may be targeted.

No details were given in the one-sentence announcement about Li Dongsheng, who was placed under investigation by the party's disciplinary body. However, the charge usually relates to corruption and abuse of power.

Li, 58, has a number of other titles, including vice director of the office responsible for cracking down on the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, forced deep underground in China following more than a decade of brutal suppression.

He is also a member of the party's Central Committee, a body of about 350 of the party's leading members, lending him added prestige, perks and opportunities for graft.

The announcement comes amid persistent rumors of an investigation into former security czar Zhou Yongkang because of his close association with disgraced politician Bo Xilai.

It also follows the establishment of a national security committee strengthening President Xi Jinping's control over the military, intelligence bodies and police.

Li spent 22 years working at main state broadcaster CCTV, rising to deputy head of the station. He then moved to the body overseeing film, television and radio, before becoming a vice minister of propaganda in 2002, less than three years after the banning of Falun Gong. In that role, he persistently defended China's crackdown on the group that once boasted millions of members and was viewed by former president and party leader Jiang Zemin as a personal attack on his power.

Despite having no experience in law enforcement, he was elevated to vice public security minister in 2009, sparking rumors he was assisted by Zhou, then a member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Unconfirmed media reports say Zhou has already been placed under secret investigation and another high-ranking legal official rumored to be linked to Zhou could also be targeted.

A former leading figure in the oil industry, Zhou rose to be general manager of China's largest energy company China National Petroleum Corp. before serving as public security minister from 2002 to 2007.

As part of Xi's corruption crackdown, four executives at China National Petroleum Corp. and its subsidiary PetroChina have already been detained and former CNPC chairman Jiang Jiemin has been fired as head of the Cabinet commission overseeing state-run companies. All were believed to have links to Zhou.