Will Xi Jinping’s Corruption Crackdown Catch the Real ‘Tigers’?
Since taking the reins of power in China last year, Party leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly vowed to fight corruption. In a meeting of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s anti-corruption body, on Jan. 22, he stressed that efforts should target both “flies” and “tigers,” referring to lower and senior level officials. The question remains, however, as to whether Xi will go after the real tigers.
Since December 2012, a few corruption tigers have indeed been snagged, including former deputy Party chief of Sichuan Province Li Chuncheng, who was a noted fixer for former security czar Zhou Yongkang, and chief communist theory adviser Yi Junqing, who is under the patronage of Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan.
More recently two other relatively high-level cadres have also been placed under investigation.
Director of Energy Administration
One is Liu Tienan, director of the National Energy Administration. Liu forged his curriculum vitae, obtained loans by fraud from Chinese banks for overseas acquisitions, and received bribes through his wife and son, according to Luo Changping, deputy editor-in-chief of Caijing Magazine, writing on his Weibo blog.
In a Jan. 30 blog post, Luo said that relevant departments have officially put Liu’s case on file for investigation.
The state-run Global Times on Jan. 31 cited a source saying that Liu is currently being “interviewed” by central authorities.
Hong Kong’s Ming Pao quoted a Beijing source on Jan. 31 saying the leadership has been considering his successor, although Liu was still working normally and appeared on television news in a Jan. 29 meeting.
In his position as director of the National Energy Administration, Liu is seen by insiders as the financial manager for former Party head Jiang Zemin and his faction. This faction has controlled China’s energy sector for decades.
The other “tiger” is Li Jianguo, a Politburo member and the vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, who has been accused of placing relatives and friends in important posts when he served as Party head of Shandong Province.
According to another report by Ming Pao, Li had disappeared from public view for over a month.
However, just like with Liu Tienan, some Chinese media reported that Li attended a meeting on Jan. 30.
There is a long list of lower level officials who have been brought down for corruption recently.
On Jan. 29 alone, at least four cases were reported by state media. They included a vice mayor, a top leader of a provincial Land and Resources Department, a deputy bureau chief of China Railway group, and a CEO of a military-industrial corporation.
Economist He Qinglian commented that Xi Jinping is caught in a dilemma and torn between targeting high-profile and low-profile officials, and between taking “thundering strikes and gentle measures.”
The Real ‘Tigers’
What’s noteworthy is that many of the tigers belong to the Jiang faction. Analysts say former Party head Jiang Zemin and his son are the biggest tigers that remain to be caught.
Information on the Jiang family corruption is abundant. The Epoch Times has previously reported that the Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission is investigating a 1.2 trillion yuan (US$190 billion) corruption case linked to the Jiangs.
Hong Kong’s Open Magazine reported in 2006 that the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements found an unclaimed outflow of money originating from China in December 2002 worth over $2 billion. Liu Jinbao, former president of the Bank of China in Hong Kong, who received a suspended death sentence in 2005, claimed that Jiang transferred the money out before the 16th Party Congress.
Another Hong Kong media, Trend Magazine, recently revealed that Jiang Zemin has made large fortunes through selling government posts and asked for at least 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) for a seat in the Politburo.
The highest ranking Party officials sacked for corruption in the past were Chen Xitong, mayor of Beijing during Jiang’s era, and Chen Liangyu, Party head of Shanghai during Hu Jintao’s era. Both were also Politburo members.
If the target of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign doesn’t reach above the Politburo level, he can’t claim to be doing a better job than his predecessors, according to Sound of Hope Network commentator Heng He.
If Xi is serious about targeting tigers, he should go after Jiang and his family, which will also allow Xi to purge the Jiang faction, Heng He said.
Another big tiger Xi should go after is Zhou Yongkang, former head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee and a former Standing Committee member, who is a major Xi antagonist, Heng He said. Zhou has controlled the regime’s lucrative security system, and has roots in the oil industry. He is one of China’s top-10 “black collar” figures—making a living off corruption—according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
“Bringing Zhou down will not just eliminate a major corrupted official,” Heng He said, “but also remove potential threats in the security system.”
Editor’s Note: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing to participate in the persecution any longer. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.
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