Could Corruption Probe Linked to Son Hurt Hu?
Simon Elegant, TIME.com
Posted: 23 July 2009 1550 hrs
July has been a trying month for China’s President, Hu Jintao. First he was forced to scurry home from Italy to deal with race riots in western Xinjiang province that left some 190 dead. His departure just ahead of the opening of the G-8 summit at which China was slated to play a key role must have been embarrassing. So unprecedented was the decision that it prompted some Sinologists to wonder whether a shaky political position at home was the real reason Hu decided to cancel.
Then in mid-month came reports that Nuctech, a company whose CEO was until last year the President’s son Hu Haifeng, is the focus of a corruption investigation in Namibia. Investigators in the African nation have reportedly requested that the 38-year-old Hu testify as a witness (though not as a suspect) in a probe into how a lucrative government contract was won by Nuctech, a maker of security-screening devices used in airports and seaports. News of the investigation is so sensitive in China that tight controls imposed on the Internet have been tightened even further. Chinese social-networking sites were blocked (access to overseas sites such as Twitter and Facebook was already barred), and Web censors have cut off Internet searches using keywords and phrases including Hu Haifeng, Namibia and Nuctech, according to the China Digital Times, a news site based at the University of California, Berkeley.