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Corruption investigations are the popular tool in China to get rid of opposition to power politicians like President Xi Jin Ping. It is the telltale sign of a power struggle on top.
The ongoing corruption investigation of Zhou Yongkang, former domestic security chief, reveals the deep divide in China politics, which affects future incursions in the Spratley’s. Zhou is a businessman-turned-politician, former head of the China National Petroleum Corp. (1996-1998), then member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, then Minister of Public Security (2002-2007). It is not known if charges against Zhou really hold water or not.
Zhou Yongkang is an ally Bo Xilai, who was jailed for corruption charges in September 2013. Now it looks like its Zhou’s turn. Bo achieved public charisma through the media because of his campaign against organized crime. A Cultural Revolution revivalist, he was also responsible for increased spending on welfare programs.
There are two forces in Chinese politics today. First are the incumbent ‘capitalists’ or conservatives led by President Xi Jin Ping, which dominate the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Chinese version of the Pentagon. They are the hawks leading the illegal territorial claims against many East Asian Countries. Second are the ‘socialists’ or liberals, the so-called ‘new left’, led by the jailed Bo and his protégé Zhou, somewhat like Marcos and Ninoy. They are the doves considered to be behind the pull-out of the billion-dollar oil rig in Vietnamese waters. They are a minority within the CMC but have a clout in certain critical issues. It is possible Zhou is being neutralized because of territorial-claims issue dampening the search for oil.
If the socialists somehow gain power in the future, the tensions in Spratleys may cool down. But with Bo and jail and perhaps also Zhou very soon, Xi will dominate foreign and military policies. Changes in ideological leanings in China also affect US reactions and strategies in the Asia Pacific.
Sources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Xilai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Yongkang http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi_Jinping