Former China security czar disproves talk of graft probe

Former China security czar disproves talk of graft probe
Mr Zhou Yongkang.

BEIJING - China's former domestic security chief was all smiles as he attended an alumni celebration at his former university yesterday, his first public appearance since overseas media reported that he was being investigated for corruption.

Mr Zhou Yongkang, 70, one of the most powerful Chinese politicians of the last decade, attended an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum, according to photographs posted by the university on its website.

He was seen beaming and shaking hands with people who appeared to be his fellow classmates, throwing doubt on the media reports.

Officials suspected of wrongdoing usually disappear from public view in China until they are convicted.

Mr Zhou retired as security czar and from the Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee during a sweeping leadership reshuffle last November.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported in late August that he was facing a corruption probe. United States-based China-watching news site Duowei said earlier he was under investigation for graft but later withdrew the report for unknown reasons.

But sources with ties to the leadership said last month that Mr Zhou, an ally of jailed former senior politician Bo Xilai, was helping the authorities in a corruption probe and was not the target.

In a sign he may not be in trouble, major state media websites published his name on two occasions after the reports alleging corruption. In late August, he sent flowers to the funeral of top nuclear scientist Liu Xiyao, while early last month he was among senior leaders who offered condolences on the death of a former official in southern Guangdong.

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