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China’s ‘tiger’ corruption cases decline, showing Xi’s imprint on party




BEIJING – None of the 200 top Chinese Communist Party officials were trapped in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign last year, suggesting that the pursuit of political enemies has become a lower priority as the Chinese leader has consolidated his power.

The party’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission sanctioned 27 provincial and ministerial officials in 2020, up from 41 in 2019, according to the country’s main anti-corruption agency.

No official of the 200 or so members of the party’s central committee has been sanctioned – a first since Xi became secretary general in November 2012 – nor any alternate committee member or member of the disciplinary commission itself.

“Almost all of the top officials were appointed by Xi’s government, so there is a risk that anything new [corruption] the allegations could bounce off Xi given his responsibility to name them, ”said Tomoki Kamo, professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

Xi announced the anti-corruption campaign in January 2013, two months after assuming leadership, vowing to crack down on both “tigers” and “flies” – officials at all levels of the party hierarchy.

Annual cases against high-level officials peaked at nine in 2017, an increase linked to a fierce power struggle ahead of the twice-decade party convention in October. That year, Sun Zhengcai, then party secretary for Chongqing, was removed from his post, among other things.

Many of the “tigers” caught up in the crackdown had ties to former President Jiang Zemin and other figures who disagreed with Xi.

The lull in high-profile cases doesn’t mean the anti-graft campaign is over. The orientation just seems to have moved lower in the hierarchy.

The total number of disciplined party members, senior grassroots officials, rose to around 600,000 last year from around 590,000 in 2019. This includes many Wuhan officials accused of their clumsy handling of the outbreak’s early days. coronavirus.

Another focal point is China’s security apparatus. At a January disciplinary committee meeting, Xi called for vigorous action against corruption and disciplinary violations in legal and political agencies.

The party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee oversees a wide range of powers, including the police, security forces, prosecutors and the courts. Once dominated by Zhou Yongkang, one of the prime targets of Xi’s purge, this is arguably the last area affected by the Chinese leader’s takeover.

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