China's President orders arrest one of the country's most powerful politicians in bold move to tackle corruption

Former, top security official, Zhou Yongkang. Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

By ITV News China Correspondent Lucy Watson

In his boldest move yet to tackle corruption, President Xi Jinping has arrested one of China’s most powerful politicians - the former, top security official, Zhou Yongkang.

The 71-year-old is the most senior Party figure to face a formal graft investigation. Zhou retired from the Politburo Standing Committee - China’s apex of power - in 2012. Prior to that, he oversaw the country’s police force, intelligence, paramilitary, judges and prosecutors as the head of domestic security.

Tonight at 6pm in China, the country’s anti-corruption agency said that Zhou was being investigated for "grave violations of discipline.” As yet, there are no details of any charges. Enquiries into Mr Zhou have never been confirmed by the government before, although they were known about and reported upon.

During his tenure, his family made investments in companies with ties to the state oil company, China National Petroleum Corp., formerly run by Zhou. Although there is no evidence that Zhou was party to any of the deals, his relatives accumulated great wealth while he was in power. His wife, a son, a brother, his sister-in-law, daughter-in-law and son’s father-in-law have all been investigated as part of the enquiry.

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Credit: AA / TT/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

This latest step in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive is inspiring two schools of thought though. One, Zhou was a titan within his realm therefore a potential challenge to Xi’s leadership, an adversary. Two, the garnering of wealth by his extended family could harm public perception of the Party, threaten its standing and encourage corruption. .

To counteract such a test, Xi appears to be trying to hold Party members responsible for their relatives’ business activities too, showing that the elite are not untouchable. Xi’s vowed, in the past, to take down the ‘tigers.’ Well, so it would seem