Fu Zhenghua, China’s former justice minister and deputy police chief, seemed to have all the stars lined up for a top-flight official career. But instead, the 66-year-old has now himself become a target in Xi’s relentless crackdown on corruption and disloyalty, which critics say has also been used to purge political rivals.
The one-sentence statement provided no details, but intriguingly elicited a wave of cheers and applause online – from grassroots police and prison guards to investigative journalists, lawyers for the human rights and intellectuals.
In Xi’s China, purges of rising political stars and top officials have become commonplace. But what’s remarkable about Fu’s fall is how celebrated it is – both by those working for the regime and by those who have been subjected to its repression.
Fu cut his teeth as a criminal investigator for the Beijing police. He first rose to prominence in 2010 – just months after being appointed the city’s police chief – when he launched a crackdown on prostitution at several high-end nightclubs allegedly influential political relations.
Following the news of his fall, several senior investigative journalists said on social media that they had been targeted by Fu for their hard-hitting reporting, on topics ranging from the illegal detention of petitioners to local government corruption. .
“The targets of Fu Zhenghua’s crackdown are people at the heart of Chinese civil society. Therefore, the entire intellectual sector of the country and the general public are all delighted with (his fall from grace), ”said Wu Qiang, political analyst in Beijing.
“His rise to power represented the aggressive iron-fist approach that has shaped China’s governance over the past decade. “
Fu’s bossy approach was also applied to police officers and prison guards, some of whom applauded the fall of their former boss as “most gratifying.” Commenting on social media, many accused Fu of imposing grueling and unreasonably harsh demands on field officers, such as not allowing prison guards to take breaks during night shifts.
Officials of China’s internal security apparatus were urged to “turn the blade inward and scrape the poison from the bone” and expose the “double-sided people” who are disloyal and dishonest towards the party.
Wu, the analyst, said the series of purges betrayed the fragility of China’s leadership in the country’s internal security agencies.
“It is very difficult for Beijing to have political confidence. This is the biggest crisis in its governance,” he said.