Zhou Yongkang, a known ally of ousted Bo Xilai, has given up his post as chief of domestic security along with control of the country’s police and domestic intelligence to Meng Jianzhu, the current minister of public security. Mr. Zhou is due to step down for the reshuffling of leaders which will take place later this year, supposedly to retain his post as secretary of the ruling Communist party’s political and legislative affairs committee. He is part of the nine-member Politburo standing committee.

Senior party members say that he will be officially removed when he is due to retire along with other top leaders, including President Hu, as publicly firing him would be “dangerous”, having as he does “access to all the dark secrets of other leaders gathered over the years by China’s pervasive domestic spy network.”

It is also said that Zhou’s handing over of China’s security to Mr. Meng well before his term ends is “normal” as he is preparing to retire soon. Mr. Zhou stepping down characterizes the “ideological struggle” over China’s political direction.