Less attention has focused on Zhang, who retired in 2018 and like nearly all top Chinese leaders stays out of the public eye in retirement. He and the Chinese government have not directly commented on Peng’s claims, which Reuters has been unable to verify.
China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and has not commented on Peng’s post or made Zhang available for comment.
“Letting Zhang come out to speak will result in a reputational loss that it doesn’t want just before the Winter Games,” said Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
“Even if the party does decide to take internal disciplinary action against Zhang, they won’t announce it right away, but will wait for the storm to blow over first, so as to show strength,” he added.
Zhang’s last appearance was on Jul 1, when he was seated on the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City in Beijing for the 100th anniversary of the founding of China’s ruling Communist Party.
The site is not far from the Great Hall of the People where six years earlier he made a “solemn commitment” to a successful Winter Games at the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee’s launch ceremony.
From 2007 to 2012, Zhang was the top political leader in the city of Tianjin. Under his watch, the once run-down provincial-level metropolis south-east of Beijing became China’s fastest growing region in 2011.
As ranking vice premier from 2013 to 2018, he was in charge of economic matters, including President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative, and headed a “leading small group” overseeing the Winter Olympics before handing over to current vice premier Han Zheng in 2018.
In 2016, he met with Bach himself, telling the IOC boss that work was being done to “make sure the 2022 Beijing Winter Games are fantastic, extraordinary and excellent”, according to a report on the English-language website of the Chinese government.
Source: Channel News Asia