Security tsar Zhou Yongkang made another high-profile public appearance yesterday - this time with President Hu Jintao - amid rumours that he has been forced to hand over power.
Zhou's speech before other top party officials at a police ceremony in the Great Hall of the People may help to dispel rumours that the powerful security chief has fallen out of favour since the spectacular downfall of his perceived ally, former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai .
With Hu, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-President Xi Jinping looking on, Zhou told police officers they would be expected to help maintain social harmony and stability in advance of the critical 18th Communist Party Congress later this year, in which top leadership posts are expected to change hands.
'Public security departments at different levels and police officials should soberly realise the special importance of maintaining stability,' Zhou said, according to Xinhua. '[The police should] further enhance their capabilities to crack down on crimes, serve people and maintain national security and social stability.'
It was the second public appearance this week for Zhou, who is one of nine members of the Politburo's supreme Standing Committee and serves as secretary of the party's political and legislative affairs committee.
He completed a four-day tour in the restive Xinjiang autonomous region on Wednesday, with footage of the trip aired on state television the following day.
Zhou also gave a speech to students at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing on May 9, the full text of which was published by the state-run People's Daily and Xinhua on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Zhou had been asked by party leaders to confess errors and hand control of the mainland's security apparatus to his deputy, Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu.