News / Asia

China Lawmakers Wary, Tight-lipped on Fate of Former Security Chief

FILE - In this March 11, 2012 file photo, Zhou Yongkang, then Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security, attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.
FILE - In this March 11, 2012 file photo, Zhou Yongkang, then Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security, attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.
Reuters
Delegates at China's annual parliament session on Wednesday were hesitant to discuss Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security chief rumored to be the most senior politician ensnared in a graft scandal in modern China's history.
      
Speculation has swirled for months that Zhou, 71, who was a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power, is being investigated for corruption.
 
However, the party has so far made no announcement on Zhou, who held the immensely powerful post of security overlord until he retired in 2012.
 
Zhou has been put under virtual house arrest while the party investigates accusations of corruption against him, sources have told Reuters.
      
The case would be highly sensitive for the party, which always wants to project an image of unity, and at the same time it would be a big test of how far it will go in the fight against graft.
 
Zhou is just the type of powerful figure, or “tiger,” that President Xi Jinping has vowed to net in his corruption campaign.
 
One delegate at the opening of the National People's Congress, in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, was prepared to offer a few words on the case.
 
“Zhou Yongkang is a national leader, if he made a mistake, he must be investigated, if he broke the law, we should use the legal system to control it,” Wang Jiaqi, a delegate from northeastern Jilin province, told Reuters.
 
“But we can't frame a good person, right? We must respect the law and have the facts,” added Wang, who said he had heard about speculation surrounding Zhou from colleagues at work.
 
Premier Li Keqiang, in a wide-ranging work report to parliament, repeated a pledge to fight corruption, saying the government would “penalize offenders without mercy,” though he unveiled no new plans to tackle the problem.
 
‘Don’t ask me’
 
Most lawmakers declined to discuss what they thought of Zhou, with some saying they had not even heard of reports he was being investigated.
      
“We shouldn't be talking irresponsibly about hearsay,” said Cui Liru, a delegate to the mostly ceremonial advisory congress that meets in tandem with parliament.
      
Others quickly moved away, with several objecting to a Reuters reporter about asking such a question.
 
“I cannot say, I really don't know, don't ask me,” said Qi Zhenwei, a delegate from central Hunan province.
 
Zhou, along with other retired party officials, had not been expected to put in an appearance at the session. He has not been seen in public since October, when he attended an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum.
 
“The central government should have a decision on his matter,” said Xu Juyun, a delegate from Hunan. “I'm just an ordinary delegate, I don't know the circumstances of these sensitive matters.”
 
In a rare hint in state media, the Global Times newspaper said this week in a commentary, “it seems that the investigation into Zhou hasn't concluded yet.”
 
The spokesman for the largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament said on Sunday, when asked about Zhou, the government was committed to fighting corruption, no matter how senior any suspect might be.
 
He then concluded by saying, “I'm sure you understand.”
 
That quickly became a catchphrase that spread across China's internet, and has been interpreted as code that Zhou is, indeed, in trouble.   
 
Asked for his assessment on Zhou, He Junming, a delegate from Sichuan province, paused for a few seconds then said: “On this, I should say, you understand too,” before walking away from a group of amused reporters.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid