Meng Jianzhu has been at the forefront of reforms to China's law enforcement during the upheaval of the past few months. (Photo/CNS)
China's public security minister Meng Jianzhu has risen to greater prominence in recent months amid the controversies surrounding Wang Lijun, Chen Guangcheng and Li Wangyang, and legal reforms in the country have also been taking place under his leadership, according to Duowei News, an outlet operated by overseas Chinese.
The downfall of Bo Xilai, which began when the former Chongqing party secretary's police chief attempted to claim asylum at the US embassy in Chengdu, was bad news for Zhou Yongkang, the head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee. Rumors were soon flying that Zhou, an ally of Bo, had been planning a coup with the ambitious politician to hijack the country's leadership succession due to take place over the next year.
Though Zhou has proved ultimately too powerful — and moreover too close to retirement — to depose, it is believed that his influence has been reduced, with Meng stepping up in terms of the trust afforded him by the central government in Beijing.
More shame was heaped upon the Chinese law enforcement system when blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng successfully escaped from his home in Shangdong province where he had been under illegal house arrest. The suspicious "suicide" of Li Wangyang, a leader of the Chinese civil rights movement, in a hospital in Hunan province also raised questions as to whether he was murdered by the local authorities.
To restore confidence in local authorities and police forces, Meng has realized that now is time for the country's public servants to undertake reforms. During a speech to 1,400 local police chiefs on July 4, Meng said there will no longer be any tolerance of police officers who neglect public sentiment. From March of this year, about 3,300 officials from the provincial, city and county governments have undergone training in Beijing on how to be responsible public servants. Nearly 70,000 local police chiefs are to undergo similar training in rotation.
At the time of the fire at a high-rise building in Shanghai in 2010 that killed at least 58 people, Meng proved his ability to maintain social stability to Yu Zhengsheng, the city's party secretary, when he successfully took command of firefighters and police to tackle the blaze and its aftermath. Meng again showed his willingness to handle flashpoints of social unrest during a trip to Sichuan province last year when he visited Kirti Gompa, a Tibetan area which had seen several monks commit suicide by self-immolation in protest at Chinese rule. Though rumors say Meng will be deployed back to Shanghai, other sources indicate he may be set for a central position after the Communist Party's 18th National Congress later this year, making him an even more influential figure in the top echelons of power.
Meng Jianzhu 孟建柱
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Chen Guangcheng 陳光誠
Li Wangyang 李旺陽
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Yu Zhengsheng 俞正聲