Is This Man About to Become China's Next Poster Boy for Corruption?

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Zhou Yongkang, China's top security official
Nelson Ching/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesZhou Yongkang, China's recently retired domestic security chief.
By Heather Timmons

Beijing has offered little information about the investigation of several executives from China's top oil producer, except to accuse them of "severe breaches of discipline," a phrase often used to invoke bribery and corruption.

But the focus on the oil industry itself and specific investigation of two of the four executives adds fuel to a growing sense that Beijing is building a corruption case against Zhou Yongkang. The recently retired domestic security chief was until last year one of the country's most powerful men -- although his embrace of labor detention camps and support for denounced Politburo member Bo Xilai earned him criticism from the general population and Communist party leaders alike.
Zhou, 70, is a former general manager of China National Petroleum Corp., parent company of PetroChina, and remains closely associated with the oil industry. He is so unpopular among some party members that 16 of them, mostly in their 70s and 80s, circulated a petition last year calling for his retirement because of his support for Bo, and for, it was inferred, a "stability program" that called for tight controls over media and online information. Nonetheless, Zhou retired in November 2012 without incident.

Since then, though, investigations and detentions of people close to him have piled up.

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Li Chuncheng, deputy party secretary of Sichuan province, where Zhou was party chief for three years, was detained in December. Wu Yongwen, a secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs committee in charge of the labor camps run by Zhou, was detained in January. And Guo Yongxiang, Zhou's aide for more than a decade, was detained in June. On Monday, officials said Wang Yongchun, the vice president of CNPC, who was close to Zhou, was being investigated. On Tuesday, three more oil executives were put under investigation, including Li Hualin, deputy manager of CNPC, who served as Zhou's secretary, as Reuters notes.
So far, China's state-run media, where information about the upcoming investigation or detention of former officials is sometimes leaked ahead of the official release, has been mum on the subject of Zhou. But numerous reports citing unnamed party sources have appeared in publications outside of mainland China, like Hong Kong's Oriental Daily (link in Chinese) and the overseas Chinese Duowei News (link in Chinese) claiming an investigation is imminent. Zhou's son, Zhou Bin, recently fled to the United States with the rest of his family, according to Boxun, (link in Chinese) a community website for Chinese citizens overseas. And a search for Zhou's name on Baidu, the Chinese search engine, returns a message saying that "due to legal reasons" only partial results are returned. The latest report there is from May of 2013.

While Bo Xilai's trial has been described as some of the most exciting political theater from China in years, maybe Beijing is just getting started.

Jennifer Chiu contributed reporting and Chinese-language translation.

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China Is Slowing, And That's Bad News For These 15 American States
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Is This Man About to Become China's Next Poster Boy for Corruption?

Exports to China 2012:
$2.5 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
1,084%

At $1.2 billion, transportation equipment is Alabama's largest export to China, followed by chemicals at $648 million and crops at $179 million.

In the same period Alabama's exports to the rest of the world grew 120%. Canada, Germany, and China are its three biggest export markets.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$2.8 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
288%

At $449 million crops are North Carolina's biggest export to China, followed by computers and electronics at $386 million, and machinery (ex-electrical) at $281 million.

North Carolina's exports to the rest of the world grew 80% in the same period. China is North Carolina's second biggest export market after Canada.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$2.6 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
473%

At $1.3 billion, crops are the state's top export to China, followed by chemicals at $323 million, and transportation equipment at $243 million.

In the same period, Indiana's exports to the rest of the world grew 103%. Canada is its largest export market, followed by Mexico and China.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.0 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
422%

At $585 million, machinery (except electrical) is Pennsylvania's top export to China. This is followed by chemicals at $426 million, and minerals and ores at $424 million.

Pennsylvania's exports to the rest of the world grew 132% between 2003 - 2012. And China is its second biggest export market after Canada.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.2 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
457%

At $2.5 billion, crops are Iowa's biggest export to China, followed by processed foods at $222 million, and machinery (ex-electrical) at $134 million.

In the same period, Iowa's exports to the rest of the world grew 130%. Canada, China and Mexico are its top three export markets.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.3 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
1,001%

At $1.8 billion transportation equipment is South Carolina's biggest export to China. Chemicals are its second biggest export at $298 million, followed by machinery (ex-electrical) at $235 million.

In the same period, South Carolina's exports to the rest of the world grew 93%. China is South Carolina's third biggest export market, after Canada and Germany.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.5 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
418%

At $1.5 billion, crops are Minnesota's top export to China, followed by machinery (ex-electrical) at $401 million, and computers and electronics at $315 million.

In the same period its exports to the rest of the world grew 75%. Canada is Minnesota's top export market followed by China and Mexico.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.7 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
344%

At $1.1 billion, crops are Ohio's biggest export to China, followed by machinery (excluding electrical) at $511 million. Transportation equipment is the third biggest export at $399 million.

Ohio's exports to the rest of the world grew 57% in the same period. China is Ohio's third biggest export market after Canada and Mexico.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.7 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
743%

At $1.6 billion, transportation equipment is Michigan's biggest export to China. Crops are it's second biggest export at $453 million, followed by machinery (ex-chemicals) at $362 million.

Michigan's exports to the rest of the world grew 63% between 2003 - 2012. China is Michigan's third biggest export market after Canada and Mexico.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$3.8 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
443%

At $797 million, transportation equipment is Georgia's top export to China, followed by paper products at $681 million, and crops at $533 million.

In the same period, Georgia's exports to the rest of the world grew 116 percent. China is its second largest export market after Canada.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$4.2 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
192%

At $1.2 billion, waste and scrap are New York's biggest exports to China. Transportation equipment is a close second at $732 million, followed by machinery (ex-electrical) at $723 million.

In the same period, New York's exports to the rest of the world grew 89%. China is it's sixth biggest export market, with Canada, Hong Kong and Switzerland taking up the top 3 spots.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$6.1 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
422%

At $2.4 billion crops are Illinois' top export to China. At $743 million, machinery (except electrical) is Illinois' second biggest export to China, followed by waste and scrap at $589 million.

Illinois' exports to the rest of the world climbed 140% in the same period. Canada and Mexico are its biggest export markets, with China coming in third.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$7.9 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
239%

At $4.9 billion, transportation equipment is Washington's biggest export to China. Computer and electronics are the second biggest exports at $534 million, followed by waste and scrap at $430 million.

In the same period Washington's exports to the rest of the world grew 89%. Canada is its largest export market, followed by China and then Japan.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$10.1 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
229%

At $3.7 billion, chemicals are Texas' top export to China, followed by computer and electronics at $1.4 billion, and crops and machinery (ex-electrical) at $1 billion each.

Between 2003 - 2012 Texas' exports to the rest of the world grew 170%. Mexico and Canada are Texas' top two export markets, with China taking the third spot.

Source: USCBC

Exports to China 2012:
$13.6 billion

Export Growth 2003 - 2012:
156%

At $3.9 billion computers and electronics are California's biggest exports to China. At $2.4 billion waste and scrap are the second biggest exports, followed by machinery (ex-electrical) and transportation equipment at $1.4 billion each.

California's exports to the rest of the world increased by 69% from 2003 - 2012. Mexico and Canada are California's top two export markets, followed by China.

Source: USCBC

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