BEIJING — China’s top security official Zhou Yongkang has been named a delegate to a top Communist Party meeting, despite calls for his removal amid political upheaval ahead of a 10-yearly leadership change.
Zhou, one of China’s top nine rulers, was named Saturday as a delegate from western-China’s Xinjiang region to the 18th Communist Party Congress which is slated to meet later this year, the Xinjiang Daily reported.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top leaders including Zhou are expected to resign from their party posts at the end of the congress, ushering in a new leadership for the world’s most populous nation.
Zhou is viewed as a hardliner and has been linked to charismatic leader Bo Xilai, whose downfall earlier this year triggered the nation’s biggest political scandal in decades.
Last week an open letter signed by a group of Communist Party veterans called for Zhou’s immediate removal, a move they said would ensure a smooth leadership transition and signal future political reforms aimed at solidifying the rule of law.
They accused Zhou of backing Bo’s campaign to crackdown on corruption that many say involved widespread use of torture and illegalities and saw a leftist revival in China’s southwestern megacity of Chongqing.
Analysts say Bo’s removal in March as head of Chongqing and his subsequent suspension from the Politburo are indicative of a major split between conservative hardliners and reformers at the helm of the ruling party.
The scandal has been a huge embarrassment for the ruling party, which had been keen to project an image of unity as it gears up for the sensitive handover.
It was not immediately clear why Zhou was named a delegate from Xinjiang to the congress. He is one of about 2,200 top party leaders expected to attend the congress.
Zhou currently heads the party’s Politics and Law Commission — which oversees China’s judiciary, prosecution and police — and is one of nine members of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the nation’s highest ruling body.
During his five years at the commission, Zhou has overseen the quelling of riots in Tibet in 2008, and in Xinjiang in 2009, as well as maintaining security for the Beijing Olympics and cracking down on democracy and rights activists.