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Xi carries on with clampdown on corrupt comrades

Publication Date : 01-08-2014

 

 More than a dozen new probes or graft-related sackings and prosecutions have been announced in the two days since a formal investigation was launched against former security czar Zhou Yongkang as president Xi Jinping kept up his anti-corruption drive.

Xi, who also heads the powerful Central Military Commission, on Wednesday warned that he would strike hard against corruption in the military during a visit to the headquarters of the Fujian military region, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

None of the new cases involves serving or former officials as powerful as Zhou, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) apex Politburo Standing Committee before he retired in 2012.

On Wednesday, one day after the CCP launched formal investigations into Zhou for alleged corruption, there was a slew of reports implicating 17 other officials in graft-related scandals.

They included vice-governor of southern Hainan province Tan Li, who was sacked on Wednesday after he came under investigation for suspected "serious law and discipline violations" last month, Xinhua reported.

The CCP's internal watchdog expelled six of its own officials, who had been tasked with investigating graft, after finding them guilty of corruption.

All these show Xi's continuing resolve to weed out corrupt officials - both powerful "tigers" and lowly "flies", said analysts.

East Asian Institute analyst Chen Gang thinks it is possible that the anti-corruption drive would be ramped up for Xi to make a political point that it will be a long and wide-ranging one.

An increasing number of inspection teams led by the party's internal watchdog have been sent out to various provinces, indicating that the campaign has not peaked, he noted.

"More officials could be caught after July. This sends a signal that the campaign is targeting not just Zhou, but a wider range of officials, and could last through Xi's first term in office till 2017."

Beijing-based political analyst Li Fan said more "tigers" are likely to be caught as endemic corruption endangers the economy.

"China's economy has fallen into the hands of oligarchs. Zhou Yongkang is just one of the many officials fattening their own pockets rather than making money for the state," he added.

Meanwhile, key elements of Zhou's power base - the domestic security forces and state energy giants - have voiced public support for Xi's decision to investigate their former boss.

The Armed Police and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) "fully support" the decision, the PLA Daily said yesterday. The probe reflects the party's political resolve to purify and reform itself, it said on its microblog.

Zhou had worked for more than 30 years in China's oil industry, including as the head of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, which has seen a raft of its top executives purged in the past year.

The oil giant declared its steadfast loyalty to Xi after Mr Zhou's downfall.

Such public declarations come as no surprise. "It is the politically correct thing to do, especially if your organisation had close links with the official. You don't want to appear like you are affected by the probe and don't support it," said Dr Chen.


 

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