Reporters attending the annual press conference of Li Keqiang today were told not to bring up questions surrounding the investigation into Zhou Yongkang or they could face being blacklisted.
The South China Morning Post reports that many overseas journalists said the foreign ministry and government press office had tipped them off prior to the session that officials said it was still “too early” to pose questions on the matter and that those who did would be moved to “blacklist”.
During his speech Li touched on the question of corrupt officials when asked whether the large number of investigations exposed a flaw in the system.
He said the Party and government were “fully determined to fight corruption”.
“Party General Secretary Xi Jinping is steadfast in the fight against corruption,” Li said.
“For corrupt behaviour and officials, we will show zero tolerance. No matter who it is, how senior his position is, as long as he violates Party discipline and law, he will be severely dealt with and punished to the full extent of the law.”
The Post reported in January that authorities in China had begun briefing officials on findings of the Zhou Yongkang corruption investigation.
Zhou, formerly one of China’s most powerful politicians and a once-member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was reportedly placed under house arrest in December as party officials investigated accusations of corruption against him.
Media have reported that if a potential trial were to result in Zhou’s downfall, it would be “one of the biggest purges since the Communist Party took power in 1949, with farther reaching consequences than the 2012 unraveling of former Chongqing Party Boss Bo Xilai”.
Reuters has compiled a collection of comments made during the conference, including commentary on the economy, which Li said was the biggest challenge China faced last year.
“China’s economy still faces severe challenges this year and probably will face a more complicated situation,” Li said.
“The biggest challenge last year was still increased downward pressure on the economy.”
“We believe we have the ability, and all the means, to ensure that economic growth will stay within a reasonable range this year.”
Read more about Li’s meeting with the press here.
[Image via Xinhua]