China Anti-Corruption Watch: Corrupt General’s Death Won’t Save Cronies, and ‘Sky Net’ Is Set to Snare Runaway Officials
China Anti-Corruption Watch: Corrupt General’s Death Won’t Save Cronies, and ‘Sky Net’ Is Set to Snare Runaway Officials

Editor’s note: The anti-corruption campaign surging through China is the most significant political event in the country’s recent history. Led by Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping and his deputy Wang Qishan, it has heavily targeted officials closely tied to Jiang Zemin, for years the Party’s behind-the-scenes godfather. These include the punishing takedowns of officials like Zhou Yongkang, Su Rong, Xu Caihou, and others. Along with the arrests of those “tigers,” as they are called in official parlance, the campaign has been swatting “flies”—officials at a lower rank who engage in corruption—across the country. This regular column documents Xi Jinping’s war against corruption in the Party as events take place.

There’s a saying in Chinese that death absolves all, but in the hunt for corrupt officials, this maxim doesn’t necessarily hold.

China’s defense ministry spokesman Colonel Geng Yansheng was asked at a press conference on March 26 if the family and associates of disgraced and recently deceased general Xu Caihou would be investigated, and if Xu would still be prosecuted for corruption and other charges.

Geng said the military won’t be pursuing Xu’s case—repeating the official line on that matter—but will definitely continue probing into all of the military commander’s cronies “until the end, with no let up.”

The Chinese military had earlier hinted as much— a day after Xu died, the state-run China Military Online ran an article titled, “Corruption Doesn’t Stop With a Person’s Death,” which suggested that those who colluded with corrupt military officials won’t escape being disciplined by the Party or the military.

Some commentators believe that the China Military Online article serves as both a warning and a reminder to those in the Jiang faction that their comeuppance is due beyond the grave of their patron.

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China’s anti-corruption agency has a new plan to nab corrupt officials abroad, and its English name should send a chill down the collective spines of these runaways, especially if those familiar with Hollywood movies.

Dubbed “Sky Net,” the inter-agency operation will focus on capturing absconded officials, clamping down on “underground banks,” and confiscating pilfered assets, according to the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on March 26.

“Sky Net” is slated to be an expansion of an existing initiative, the Ministry of Public Security-ran “Operation Fox Hunt” campaign. Launched last year, “Operation Fox Hunt” saw 680 fugitives guilty of economic crimes repatriated to China, according to state mouthpiece Xinhua. “Sky Net” will debut in April.

“Xi Jinping is looking to frighten officials close to Jiang Zemin by pursuing those who fled overseas,” said political commentator Chen Minghui of “Sky Net” in a New Tang Dynasty Television report.

Fans of the “Terminator” sci-fi film series will undoubtedly be tickled by the latest anti-corruption operation because it shares the same name as the evil, advanced artificial intelligence (Skynet, no space) which creates the cyborg Terminator. Played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator was sent by Skynet to hunt the film’s fleeing protagonists in the original film. The Chinese regime’s “Sky Net” seeks to track down runaway, corrupt officials.

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