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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs