POLITICS

Zhou Yongkang

Some provinces puzzlingly slow over backing for Zhou probe

Questions over puzzling slowness of some jurisdictions to voice public support on the issue

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 3:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 6:30pm

It has been three weeks since the formal announcement of an investigation into retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang but party leaders in some provinces have been puzzlingly slow to publicly declare their support for the decision, according to some analysts.

Qinghai province became the last of the 31 provinces to publicly support the Communist Party's decision to investigate Zhou, and the slowness of some provincial-level committees to agree may signal at least some hesitation within the party on the issue.

The Qinghai party committee met on August 2, four days after the findings of the investigation of Zhou were issued. But the province's main news outlet - qhnews.com - didn't release the announcement of the committee's support until Sunday.

"It's not quite normal [to see local governments take days to react]," said Hu Xingdou , a commentator at the Beijing Institute of Technology. "It shows there are still disputes among officials, and not everyone supports [President] Xi [Jinping ] without reservation."

Hunan , Hubei , Yunnan and Beijing were the first to react to the announcement. On the night of July 29, all four conveyed their support from top down. However, none of the party newspapers in the jurisdictions published their decisions immediately. The party newspapers of Hunan and Hubei published support on August 2. Yunnan's paper did so on August 4, and Beijing on August 7.

Shaanxi and Guizhou met to consider the party's decision on July 30, the day after it was announced, and published their support the following day.

"They might have met early, but that doesn't mean they reached an agreement. They could publish the news only after everyone was on the same page," Hu said.

July 30 was the day when most provinces voiced their support. Fifteen provinces and autonomous regions met on that day to study the decision. On August 1, Army Day, five more provinces gave their backing.

Also over the weekend, state media reported that during a visit to troops in Tibet and Qinghai , Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the military should absolutely obey the party and Xi. He referred specifically to the need for the military to firmly support the decision to investigate Zhou and Xu Caihou , the former vice-chairman of the military commission.

"It is normal to see local governments react on significant political issues involving members of the Politburo's Standing Committee," said Cheng Yizhong, the former chief editor of Southern Metropolis Daily and The Beijing News. "It shows that the power struggle is intense. The hidden force of Zhou is not weak, so Xi needs the support from local leaders."