Last autumn saw the conclusion of China’s most politically charged trial in decades when former rising political star Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of “bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power”. Looming on the horizon is an even more sensational tale of official corruption that promises to relegate Bo to a lurid footnote. In pursuing former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, President Xi Jinping has given a demonstration of his power and a popular face-value commitment to cleaning house. In doing so he risks further exposing the rotten core of the ruling Communist Party and establishing a worrying precedent for powerful leaders with skeletons in their closets. Former leaders Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin are reported to have sent Xi a warning not to overreach or do anything to endanger the Party’s capacity to rule and to stay in power.