Former Vice President of China’s Supreme Court Facing Investigation Over Alleged Serious Violation of Law

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The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) anti-graft watchdog has put another high-ranking party official under investigation for an alleged serious violation of the law, with no specific allegations given. The announcement was issued on March 21 on the Central Disciplinary Committee’s website.

Shen Deyong, 68, a current member of the Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is the first ministerial level cadre to be axed in 2022.

For almost 20 years, Shen worked at the Supreme People’s Court. He was the court’s vice president and a first-class justice for 10 years until he was ousted in 2018.

On the heel of the announcement, the Supreme People’s Court immediately issued a statement in support of the investigation. The statement says that Shen damaged the image of the Supreme People’s Court, judicial authority, and public trust. The statement urges other officials to “learn the lesson of Shen, manage oneself, one’s family and one’s subordinates properly.”

Potential Trigger for Shen Investigation

The Central Disciplinary Committee released no details about Shen’s alleged “violation of the law.” Chinese media Caixin reported on March 22 that Shen’s former secretaries at the Supreme People’s Court and some family members have been summoned to aid the investigation.

According to several mainland Chinese media outlets, including Caixin, a shareholding dispute involving a law firm headed by Shen’s former secretary at the Supreme Court may have triggered the investigation.

In 2015, the New China Life Insurance shareholding dispute case carried a price tag of almost $16 million in attorney fees paid to the law firm of Shen’s former secretary. In recent months, the case has been targeted for investigation in the anti-corruption campaign within the CCP’s political and legal affairs system.

Deep Ties to Shanghai and Jiangxi Political Gangs

In-fighting is common within the CCP. As a result, cadres form gangs based on geographic locations where they have the most connections. Shen is considered part of the Jiangxi Gang. His affiliation comes from his being born in Jiangxi province. His career in the political and legal affairs system started in 1983 in his home province. The Jiangxi Gang is commonly known to be headed by the right-hand man to former CCP leader Jiang Zemin.

Political commentator Wang He said that Shen’s affiliation to Jiang is obvious. Shen made a notable contribution to Jiang’s clan in 2006, when a financial scandal surrounding the misuse of Shanghai’s social security fund broke out. It implicated then Shanghai Communist Party boss, Chen Liangyu, who belonged to Jiang’s clan. In order to “control the damage,” Shen was abruptly transferred from the Supreme People’s Court to Shanghai as the head of the Shanghai Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Shen’s mission was to control the depth of the investigation so that it did not implicate too many of Jiang’s people. As soon as the investigation was over, Shen was transferred back to the Supreme People’s Court and was promoted from “second-class justice” to “first-class justice,” and from “vice president” to “standing vice president” of the court.

Immediately after Shen was ousted, the Supreme People’s Court said in a statement it stood “to resolutely and thoroughly purge the remaining poisonous influence of Shen Deyong.” Wang He said it indicates that Xi Jinping is in the process of obtaining control of the judicial system, which used to be controlled by Jiang.

Shen’s career arc at the Supreme People’s Court from 1998 to 2018 paired similarly to that of Meng Jianzhu, another member of the Jiangxi Gang.

Epoch Times Photo
Former security czar Meng Jianzhu in September 2011. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

A Jiangxi local, Meng had connections to Shen’s relatives throughout the province. He served as the Jiangxi provincial Party boss in 2001, and was later promoted to the chief of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC).

By the time Shen returned to the Supreme Court from Shanghai in April 2008, Meng had received his PLAC chief promotion. The connection between the two became even closer. Shen appeared at numerous high-profile events alongside Meng.

Meng retired in March 2018. Three months later, despite Shen’s seemingly stable tenure and serving three different supreme court presidents, he was suddenly removed from the Supreme People’s Court and appointed a side-line position.

Political commentator Zheng Haochang said that “in the CCP’s agencies, it is usually the deputy head who has the real power, while the head is usually a political figure without real authority. The fact that Shen Deyong was the standing deputy head of the Supreme Court for 10 years shows that he had real strategic authority. The fact that Shen is now ousted also has profound implications.”

Kelly Song


Kelly Song is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on all things related to China.

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