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Ex-security tsar 'corruption probe'

China's top leaders have backed a corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, a former security tsar and one of the country's most powerful politicians of the past decade, according to a report.

Quoting sources "familiar with the leadership thinking", the South China Morning Post said China's current and retired top leaders endorsed the decision in early August to investigate Mr Zhou, who oversaw the judicial system and served on the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power.

No Politburo Standing Committee - incumbent or retired - has been investigated for economic crimes since the 1980s.

Mr Zhou is also known to have been a strong ally of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, who stood trial this past week accused of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power and is awaiting a verdict.

Before Bo's fall, it was widely believed that Mr Zhou was supporting his bid for a seat on the Standing Committee and to become his successor.

Mr Zhou is widely associated with a policy to maintain social stability at all costs, using the state power to suppress voices of social critics and political dissidents.

SCMP said the investigation, rumoured for months, is focusing on oilfield and property deals that have benefited Mr Zhou and his family.

There has been no mention of the investigation in China's state media.

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