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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More