Bo ally falls into line with leaders
The Communist Party's security tsar ordered law enforcement officials to always toe Beijing's political line - comments that come as the central government continues to push for unity amid rumours of a power struggle at the top.
Zhou Yongkang, head of the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, told more than 450 law and order officials at a training camp in Beijing last week that 'stressing politics is always the overriding priority', according to a report by People's Daily.
The event on March 26 was the first of a string of training programmes for more than 3,300 such officials from across the nation.
Zhou told the officials to keep a 'high degree of consistency' with the central party leadership at all times, the report said.
Zhou's comments follow his open support for the achievements of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai during the National People's Congress session last month - just days before Bo was removed from the key post.
Zhou, who is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, attended a Chongqing delegation discussion session on March 8, speaking highly of the municipality's achievements in recent years.
Speculation was rife by then that Bo would be sacked because he failed to appear on the presidium seats in a plenary session on the morning of March 8. Zhou's comments that afternoon were considered by some as a political gesture to back up Bo.
They also triggered speculation that Zhou could be out of step with the rest of the Standing Committee members following Bo's removal.
Chen Ziming, an independent political analyst based in Beijing, said Zhou's remarks had at least showed that the central leadership had reached a political consensus, even if it might be a temporary one. 'Zhou's remarks in recent days seem to suggest he has survived the political storm for now,' Chen said.
But, Chen and veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said political uncertainties still loomed over Zhou.
'Just like Bo, who kept saying things to please the central government before his downfall, Zhou, who seemingly consented to Bo's crackdown on criminal syndicates, is trying to portray a picture of unity by showing his loyalty to the party's core leadership,' Lau said.
City University of Hong Kong political science professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said that 'as a top leader who must have been well aware of all the wild speculation about him a week or two ago, Zhou has seemingly chosen the right time to make his appearance and remarks to smash the rumours'.