Former China Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang attends the opening ceremony of the 17th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2007.
Former China Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang attends the opening ceremony of the 17th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2007.

The former chief of China's security apparatus is being investigated for using China's state television station as a personal harem, as president Xi Jinping continues conducts his anti-corruption drive.

Until his retirement last year, Zhou Yongkang, 71, was the head of China's police, judiciary, foreign and domestic intelligence services.

Zhou has been under house arrest since December, and has been linked with a series of glamorous broadcasters since his wife died in a suspicious car accident in 2008.

According to Hong Kong magazine Da Shi Jian (Great Events), citing party sources, five presenters from China's state-run CCTV station have been questioned over their relationship with Zhou.

Zhou's womanising allegedly led him to form a close relationship with Li Dongsheng, 58, the deputy chief at CCTV, who introduced him to a number of young female presenters.

Li was arrested last December, having been made vice-minister of public security by Zhou, despite having no background in law enforcement.

"Everyone at CCTV feels in danger and more than 100 staff have been placed under investigation," the article said.

Other women
Among those who allegedly caught Zhou's eye were Shen Bing, 37, a financial reporter who asked for Zhou's help when one of her husband's property development projects ran into trouble.

According to the report, Zhou arranged for a provincial Communist party chief to buy the development for state use.

Shen has been detained for questioning and has not been seen since last year, claims the magazine.

Among the other women is Jia Xiaoye, 43, niece of former president Jiang Zemin, who went on to become Zhou's second wife, and Wang Xiaoya, 44, a sports presenter married to Cao Jianming, China's top prosecutor.

As head of the judiciary, Cao is believed to have worked closely with Zhou, and has been questioned by party officials over his dealings with Zhou.

Zhou was a one-time associate and patron of disgraced party official Bo Xilai, who was jailed for corruption.

It is believed that Zhou attempted to shield Bo from prosecution, and opposed Xi's rise to power.

Oil scandal
Zhou's eldest son, Zhou Bin, and other relatives have also been detained in an investigation into an alleged £10 billion scam relating to Zhou's time as head of of the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary Petro China.

The party's central committee for disciplinary inspection is also investigating claims that Zhou's henchmen may have arranged the 2008 car crash that killed his first wife.

Both drivers, members of the People's armed Police, were given 10-year sentences for their role in the crash, but were freed within a year and given senior roles in Zhou's petroleum companies.

High ranking officials from Zhou's time as governor of Sichuan have also been questioned.

Though some observers believe that Xi wants to bring Zhou to trial to showcase his commitment to rooting out party corruption, other senior officials have reportedly expressed concern that the amount of money Zhou managed to embezzle will paint the party in too poor a light to warrant public exposure.