China's most feared man humiliated in public before his purge As speculation over the downfall of Chinaâ€™s former security tsar reaches fever pitch, curious visitors flock to a mansion in his ancestral village hoping for a rare peek inside the life of a top Communist leader He was the son of an eel fisherman who rose from rural poverty to become one of the most powerful men on Earth: a Chinese spy master, oil boss and police chief who controlled a domestic security budget of tens of billions of pounds. But Zhou Yongkang, a 71-year-old sometimes referred to as Chinaâ€™s Dick Cheney, now faces political annihilation with Xi Jinping, the president, poised to purge him from the Communist Party. As the country awaits the official pronouncement, Mr Zhou has suffered the first of what is likely to be a tsunami of humiliations after the address of his ancestral home was exposed by the media and gleeful foes began flocking there to take â€œselfiesâ€ outside a family mansion they might once have been detained for simply daring to look at for too long. â€œHe is a big fish. The biggest fish!â€ one such visitor said after posing for dozens of photographs outside the rural property. â€œNormal people donâ€™t like him.â€ He moved higher up the ranks, taking charge of Chinaâ€™s entire domestic security apparatus, including police, intelligence services and courts. Between 2007 and 2012, he sat on the Politburo Standing Committee â€“ making him one of Chinaâ€™s nine most influential men. But with Xi Jinpingâ€™s anti-corruption investigators apparently now closing in, that power base appears to have been obliterated. Dozens of Mr Zhouâ€™s associates and relatives have been taken into custody in recent months, among them Zhou Bin, his son, Zhou Yuanqing, his brother, and Zhou Lingying, his sister-in-law. â€œThey are going to pull him down soon,â€ predicted Andrew Wedeman, a political scientist and author of Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China. â€œHe is a huge scalp.â€ The precise nature of the charges against Mr Zhou remain a mystery but speculation over his fate reached fever pitch this week when Chinese media took the extraordinary step of broadcasting drone images of an elegant white building in Jiangsu provinceâ€™s Xiqiantou village that it hinted was Zhou Yongkangâ€™s ancestral home. The gilded private lives of communist leaders are strictly off limits to the domestic press and the aerial footage was â€œa sign that the end is nighâ€, said Jon Sullivan, the deputy director the University of Nottinghamâ€™s China Policy Unit. â€œIt is like a boa constrictor slowly but inexorably applying greater pressure,â€ Dr Sullivan said of Beijingâ€™s slow-burn media campaign against Mr Zhou. â€œBy the time the coup de grace comes, everyone will have no doubt whatsoever that he is guilty.â€ Since finding itself at the centre of what many describe as Chinaâ€™s greatest political intrigue in decades, Xiqiantou, where Mr Zhou was born in 1942, has become a point of pilgrimage for an unusual species of Chinese tourist. â€œWe came from Suzhou because he is a famous political man,â€ beamed one visitor, a visibly excited 40-year-old. He refused to give his name, but was happy to share his views on Mr Zhou, a widely loathed figure famed for the permanent and menacing scowl etched on to his face. The visitor was among more than a dozen incredulous people gathered outside the property hoping to gain the unlikeliest of windows into the life of a man who was once able to peer inside their homes at will. Before Mr Zhouâ€™s political collapse, attempting to photograph the luxurious family residence of Chinaâ€™s most senior policeman would likely have resulted in a lengthy jail term. Mr Zhou joined Chairman Maoâ€™s Communist Party in 1964 and rose from oilfield engineer to the head of Chinaâ€™s largest energy company. People stand in front of a house rumoured to belong to Zhou Yongkang, China's former security chief and oil tsar, at the village of Xiqiantou, Jiangsu Province, China (Qilai Shen) This week, smug-looking opponents took â€œselfiesâ€ on smartphones and examined an elegant stone carving of the Chinese character â€œFuâ€ or â€œFortuneâ€ inside the two-floor buildingâ€™s porch. Three security cameras and at least one of Mr Zhouâ€™s relatives looked on helplessly. â€œIâ€™m a naturally adventurous and curious kind of guy,â€ said another visitor who asked to be named only as Mr Qin but, like others, was less coy about pushing his head through a hole in the propertyâ€™s front wall to examine its unkempt front lawn. â€œThis is something that directly affects ordinary people. We had to come and check it out, to see it with our own eyes. Lots of things have come to light. If they are indeed true he is guilty as sin.â€ However, villagers said the building actually belonged to Mr Zhouâ€™s youngest brother, Zhou Yuanqing, who was reportedly detained with his wife last December. Zhou Yongkangâ€™s childhood abode was demolished three decades ago and he no longer kept a house in the village, claimed Zhou Yixing, 73, a farmer who grew up with him. Mr Zhou, who is no relation, remembered his once powerful namesake as a dedicated student and farmhand â€œwho rarely played with us in the villageâ€. The politicianâ€™s father, Zhou Yisheng, was a fisherman who bankrolled his sonâ€™s education by selling eels from a local creek, the villager said. His mother was renowned for her silkworm-raising skills. They were â€œgood people from poor familiesâ€, the farmer added. â€œI donâ€™t think Zhou has committed any crime. It is not possible. He is an honest and considerate person.â€ He said â€œthe majorityâ€ of villagers still supported Xiqiantouâ€™s most famous son. But the outsiders who had flocked to Xiqiantou were already dancing on Mr Zhouâ€™s political grave. At least one of Zhou Yongkangâ€™s relations still lives in the village, his nephew, Zhou Xiaohua. He slammed the gates to his home when asked to discuss what had happened to his uncle. â€œGo! Go! Go!â€ he shouted. â€œGet out!â€ There was no answer at the white building next door and its dust-coated intercom suggested it had been empty for months. A Chinese couplet hung from its shuttered side entrance, offering some words of comfort to Mr Zhou as he braces himself for what is likely to be his annus horribilis â€œPeace, fortune and prosperity,â€ it read. â€œAll year round.â€ Video: China's most feared man humiliated in public before his purge - Telegraph ***************************************************** An interesting commentary about the Chinese Communist Party. It is the avenue to get rich quick without fear and only get caught when you upset the powers that be. No wonder all Chinese want to join the Chinese Communist Party.