In December 2012, just one month after Xi Jinping took over the reins of the Communist Party, Liu Tienan, former vice-chairman of the National Energy Administration, was the first big tiger to fall. Luo Changping 罗昌平, the deputy editor of the financial magazine Caijing 财经, used his Sina Weibo account to accuse Liu of faking his academic credentials, taking kickbacks, having a mistress — and threatening to kill her.
Liu denied the allegations. But it seemed the authorities had already placed him under investigation. The following month they detained his son for corrupt business dealings, sacked Liu from his official position in March 2013 and then arrested him in May along with his wife who was also allegedly part of his illicit schemes. At his trial in September 2014 in Langfang, Hebei, the prosecution accused Liu of taking 35.6 million yuan in bribes. He was dismissed from the Party but no sentence has been announced.
Gu Junshan 谷俊山
In March 2014, General Gu Junshan, the former deputy head of the PLA Logistics Department, faced charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. No further details were provided, but General Gu, a farmer’s son from Henan province, had reportedly been at the heart of PLA corruption for many years, collecting kickbacks from military contracts and presiding over a land development racket.
General Liu Yuan 刘源, the Political Commissar of the Logistics Department and the man in charge of cleaning up corruption in the department, first tried to bring General Gu down in late 2011. At the time, he encountered significant resistance, according to The New York Times.
Xu Caihou 徐才厚
The fall of Gu Junshan exposed an even bigger tiger: General Xu Caihou, the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and son of factory workers from Liaoning province. It is alleged that the practice of buying and selling promotions was rife during General Xu’s term on the CMC (which ended in 2013). Expelled from the Communist Party in June 2014, the onetime Politburo member would face trial for taking bribes and abusing the powers of his office, although it was not certain he will face the courts as he is reportedly critically ill with bladder cancer.
Jiang Jiemin 蒋洁敏
In June 2014, the Party expelled Jiang Jiemin, who until recently had been the chairman of China’s largest state oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation, from its ranks. From March 2013, Jiang had also been the director of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the body that supervises China’s largest government-run businesses. He was abruptly removed from both posts six months later and disappeared into the hands of investigators. Four other senior oil executives vanished along with him at the time of writing. No charges had been laid. But it appeared that the investigations were part of the preparation for the case that would be made against the former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, for Jiang was one of Zhou’s prominent associates.
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Xi Jinping and the anti-corruption investigators have approached the biggest tiger of them all, the first Politburo Standing Committee member to face investigation in decades, with extreme caution. The son of an eel fisherman from Jiangsu province, Zhou rose through the oil industry to eventually take charge of China’s security apparatus, including its law courts. Anti-corruption investigators first detained several of his key allies, including not only Jiang Jiemin, but also Li Chuncheng 李春城, the former deputy party secretary of Sichuan, and Li Dongsheng 李东生, a former deputy public security minister.
They then began detaining members of his family, including his son Zhou Bin 周斌 and his daughter-in-law Huang Wan 黄婉. Finally, in July 2014, state media formally announced that Zhou himself was being investigated for corruption. Several state media editorials promised that Zhou was far from the last tiger in the campaign’s sights.