| SHANGHAI, March 4
SHANGHAI, March 4 A state-run Chinese newspaper
has for the first time identified former domestic security chief
Zhou Yongkang as the father of a businessman who is being
investigated for graft and implied that Zhou himself is also
under investigation for corruption.
Sources have said that Zhou, 71, is the most senior Chinese
politician to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist
Party took power in 1949, but the case is highly sensitive and
has been shrouded in secrecy with hardly a shred of information
confirmed by authorities or reported in state media.
Late on Monday, the Global Times newspaper said on the
website of it English-language edition that businessman Zhou Bin
was "Zhou's eldest son", a comment it repeated on Tuesday in its
English-language print edition.
In a separate commentary, the newspaper said: "It seems that
the investigation into Zhou hasn't concluded yet." The
newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party's official
People's Daily, did not give a source for the information.
Rumours have been swirling for weeks that Zhou Yongkang and
Zhou Bin were father and son and confirmation in state-run media
would appear to indicate more openness about the elder Zhou's
case. That, in turn, could indicate enhanced consensus among top
leaders on the elder Zhou's fate.
President and party chief Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping
crackdown on deep-rooted corruption since taking power, vowing
to take down high-ranking "tigers" and lower level "flies".
But it is unclear if the government will actually put Zhou
Yongkang on trial and risk embarrassing revelations about
China's elite becoming public, undermining confidence in the
Zhou was a patron of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai,
who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of
power in the worst political scandal since the 1976 downfall of
the Gang of Four led by the widow of former leader Mao Zedong at
the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Zhou retired in 2012. He was last seen at an alumni
celebration at the China University of Petroleum on Oct. 1.
The government has not even confirmed that he is under
investigation because he remains influential and the issue is
highly sensitive within the party, which prefers to project an
image of unity rather than infighting.
"WE MEAN IT"
Zhou Bin has been the subject of a flood of reports in
Chinese media in recent weeks, and sources told Reuters late
last year he was cooperating in an investigation into
accusations of corruption against his father.
It has not been possible to reach either Zhou for comment.
Several associates of the elder Zhou have been detained in
the investigation and the Beijing News reported on Monday Zhou
Bin's paternal uncle and aunt were also detained in December.
Chinese media reports have alleged that Zhou Bin used his
connections to make huge gains via business with China National
Petroleum Corp, the country's biggest oil and gas
company, and selling made-in-China equipment to overseas
oilfields operated by Chinese firms.
Asked about Zhou Yongkang on Sunday, the spokesman for
China's parliamentary consultative body told reporters the
government was committed to fighting corruption and had
investigated "leading officials". He did not name
"We are doing this to demonstrate to the whole party and the
whole society that when we see that anyone violates law and
party discipline they will be investigated and dealt with
severely, and no matter whom they are or what their position is,
we mean it," the spokesman, Lu Xinhua, said.
"I'm sure you understand," he added.
In the two days since, "I'm sure you understand" has become
a catch phrase on the Chinese Internet, where some have
interpreted it as a hint that Zhou is indeed under
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by