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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid