Beijing: In a significant political move, China’s ruling Communist Party is probing former security czar Zhou Yongkang for charges of corruption and abuse of power, targeting one of the most powerful politician in the country.

Zhou, who retired from the country’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) in 2012, is under investigation for “serious disciplinary violation,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The term “serious disciplinary violation” in Communist Party of China (CPC) parlance refers to corruption and abuse of power.

The Central Committee of the CPC has decided to place Zhou under investigation for suspected breach of discipline, it said, confirming rumours that he and a number of his close aides were being probed.

Zhou was the ninth-ranking member of nine-me bered Standing Committee of the CPC headed by former Party leaderand ex-President Hu Jintao, who handed over power to Xi Jinping last year.

Hu retired  ast year after the decade-long political leadership change in the Party.     Zhou was considered the security Czar as he headed the country’s powerful internal security department till last year.

The move to place him under investigation is regarded as politically significant as this is the first time that a retired high ranking leader is being prosecuted, deviating from an established CPC norm for decades that retired leaders are not to be touched.

The Xinhua report said the investigation will be conducted by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

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