China Corruption Purge Targets Biggest Fish Yet
Zhou Yongkang was member of country's Politburo
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 29, 2014 9:00 AM CDT
In this photo taken Friday, March 9, 2012, Zhou Yongkang attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(Newser) – Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it his mission to eliminate corruption within the ruling Communist Party, and his latest target is the highest-ranking thus far. Zhou Yongkang is the former head of national security and an ex-member of the Politburo Standing Committee, which heads the party; he was among "the country's most feared leaders" before he retired in 2012, the AP notes. But he hasn't appeared publicly in months, the BBC reports, and now, state media say he's facing an investigation over a possible "serious disciplinary violation."

Though unspecific, that language tends to refer to corruption, the Wall Street Journal notes. Zhou, a onetime ally of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, is the highest-ranking official to face investigation since the 1980s, when Mao Zedong's wife was among those targeted in an investigation, the BBC reports. Until now, such inquiries had avoided Politburo members, the Journal notes. Xi could face anger within the party over the probe, the paper adds, but it also points to the solidifying of his power, the BBC notes.