Former Communist Party senior leader Zhou Yongkang made a rare public appearance on Tuesday when he paid a visit to the China University of Petroleum on the school’s 60th anniversary.
Dozens of photos published on the school’s website showed the now retired Zhou, accompanied by the school’s officials, inspecting facilities around the campus and meeting with his former classmates. In the photos, he is wearing a black suit and white shirt with no tie and his hair appears to be undyed, brownish grey and thinning, unlike in previous public appearances.
Zhou, 70, was an alumnus of the school where he studied gas exploration between 1961 and 1966 when it was known as China Institute of Petroleum, the school said in a statement on its website.
Zhou described the nation’s first petroleum university as a “cradle for talents” and praised it for training over 200,000 professionals, according to the website. Zhou, during his visit, also called on the university students and teachers to strive to achieve a “Chinese dream” in petroleum.
Zhou, who was one of the nine powerful standing committee members of the communist party’s politburo, the highest decision-making body in China, was previously in charge of China’s immense security forces and law enforcement institutions between 2007 and 2012.
But he has maintained low-profile ever since he stepped down, but mounting media reports have linked him to an ongoing corruption investigation involving the state petroleum industry.
The South China Morning Post last month reported party leaders had given a green light to an unprecedented corruption investigation into Zhou and former aides and associates.
Jiang Jiemin, widely regarded as a protégé of Zhou and the former chairman of energy giant China National Petroleum Corporation, was recently detained by Communist Party authorities.
Zhou’s high-profile visit on Tuesday was his first known public appearance since July when he showed up at a former senior petroleum industry official’s funeral in Beijing, according to a petroleum industry news portal.