By Janet Liu and Larry Ong
In the five years before Xi Jinping took office in 2012, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) was one of the most powerful organs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Helmed by then-Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, the PLAC enjoyed an annual budget of $120 billion, larger than that of the military. Zhou was nicknamed the “security czar,” and with good reason—policies instituted during Jiang Zemin’s era of dominance greatly expanded the PLAC’s reach to the point where Zhou could mobilize the armed police in Beijing in an attempted coup in 2012.
The PLAC today is no longer the all-powerful security organ of Zhou Yongkang’s time. Xi’s policies and personnel changes have combined to curb the PLAC’s authority and weaken its influence. As more reforms are rolled out, the PLAC would lose its Jiang-era status and relevance on overseeing security and legal affairs in the Chinese regime.