The most senior official to face corruption charges in the history of modern China has been formally placed under investigation by the ruling Communist party, nearly eight months after he and his family members were detained.
In a one-line statement published by Chinese state media on Tuesday evening, the party's Central Committee announced it would investigate Zhou Yongkang, 71, the country's former security tsar, for suspected "serious violations of [party] discipline," a euphemism for corruption charges.
Between 2007 and 2012, Mr Zhou was one of China's nine most powerful men as a member of the party's Central Politburo Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in the authoritarian state.
Sometimes referred to as the "Dick Cheney of China", Mr Zhou was the most feared of China's top leaders because of his position as head of the internal security services, the police and the courts, and his connections in the state-owned energy sector.
The launch of a public, if carefully stage-managed, investigation into Mr Zhou will lend teeth to an anti-corruption campaign that has been the centerpiece of President Xi Jinping's administration since he took power in late 2012.
In a conscious citation of the former dictator Mao Zedong, Mr Xi has repeatedly said his campaign will take down corrupt "tigers" – senior party officials previously viewed as untouchable – as well as "flies" from the lower ranks of the bureaucracy.