Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Zhou Yongkang: From Humble Beginnings To Wealthiest China's Communist Party Official

Zhou Yongkang

(Photo : Barry Bahler/FEMA Photo Library) Zhou Yongkang (right) listens to American Admiral Thad Allen during a 2006 trip to the United States.

Zhou Yongkang went from the oil fields of China to become the country's top politicians - until he fell from grace.

The former security chief is currently being investigated on charges of "serious disciplinary violation," which in layman's terms, means corruption. The announcement came in the heels of speculations that Zhou is being targeted in the government's crackdown against the country's "big tigers."

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But before he became a political bigwig, Zhou spent much of his career in the oil fields.

Zhou was born in Wu Xi City, Jiangsu Province, in 1942. He joined the China's Communist Party in 1964. He studied at the Beijing Petroleum Institute where he took up and finished a degree in geophysical survey and exploration.

For more than three decades, Zhou worked in China's oil sector. Daqing started as a technician in Daqing oil field, and then rose through the ranks to become the general manager and party secretary of the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation.

Zhou then made a career shift from the oil fields to national security after he was appointed as a member of the Politburo, China's highest decision making body, in 2002. Five years later, he was promoted as member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

Then came Zhou's - and his subordinates - fall from grace.

Starting 2012, many of Zhou's lieutenants have either been thrown out of the office or investigated on charges ranging from corruption to taking or offering bribes.

Aside from his subordinates, Sichuan businessman Liu Han, who has reportedly enjoyed Zhou's protection in the past, was sentenced in May on charges of organizing and leading a mafia-style crime and murder.

In December 2013, Beijing authorities arrested Zhou himself on charges of corruption.

The crackdown on China's corrupt officials stemmed from President Xi Jinping's promise to bring down "tigers and flies" that invade the country. 

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