|Analysts say Zhou's fall cements Xi's grip on power
China's Xi Jinping is emerging as the country's most powerful leader in decades, analysts said, after the declaration of a probe into the country's former security chief, as state media Wednesday hailed the groundbreaking move.
Zhou Yongkang wielded control of China's police, courts, jails and domestic surveillance until his retirement from the elite Politburo Standing Committee in 2012.
But the ruling Communist Party's internal watchdog finally made public its long-rumoured investigation into him on Tuesday.
By taking down Zhou, Xi breaks a decades-old unwritten taboo against punishing current and former members of the party's innermost circle -- a move experts say suggests a leader on track to amass more power than those of recent decades.
Less than two years after taking office, Xi was "very well entrenched'', said Willy Lam Wo-lap, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "For the rest of his eight-year term I think he will become the strong man, he will become likely much more powerful than his predecessors.''
As well as the standard offices of a Chinese leader -- head of the ruling party, the government and the military -- Xi has placed himself at the head of several committees previously led by other figures, and a new and much-touted national security committee.
He has done so while navigating his way through the faction-ridden upper echelons of the ruling party.
Analysts see Zhou's takedown as part of an effort by Xi and his allies to root out those who might challenge their hold on power.
Among Zhou's proteges was Bo Xilai, the ambitious and charismatic politician whose spectacular fall from grace two years ago came after he became viewed as a threat to the ruling elite.
"It is certainly a very important signal that Xi Jinping is in charge, he can go after anyone within the party,'' said Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong.
"In contrast to Hu Jintao, his predecessor, he is not a first among equals and he has been gradually emerging as the most powerful leader in China.'' --AFP