Archive for ‘corruption’


To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ

One major question hovering over China’s anti-corruption campaign – already the longest the country has ever seen — is when it’s going to wind down.

According to anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan, who briefed fellow officials on the campaign last week (in Chinese), it won’t be any time soon.

And the major reason for that may well be that Beijing hasn’t yet figured out how to end it.

Wang laid out the anti-corruption strategy in unusual detail during these meetings, supplying a road map that outlined where the campaign had been and where it’s now headed (in Chinese).

Beijing’s anti-graft crusade isn’t just a one-off initiative, but an extended battle which began last year, taking down, as President Xi promised, both high-ranking “tigers” and lower-level “flies.”

And it’s accelerating.  According to an analysis that appeared on the website of the People’s Daily earlier this month, from January to May this year, Wang’s inspection teams disciplined 62,953 people, an increase of 34.7% over the same period the previous year (in Chinese).

In his briefing last week, Wang conceded that the campaign didn’t start all that well.  Indeed, in the early stages of the campaign, Wang said, the sense among his inspection teams was that corruption was buried so deep within China’s political marrow that it couldn’t be defeated, only deterred from growing.  Party officials were only too comfortable with political business as usual, where bribes and personal connections overrode considerations of actual talent when it came to selecting and promoting cadres.

“Some localities and departments, as well as some party organizations saw the pursuit of honest government as not their main responsibility,” Wang said, adding that the only option at that point was to “not allow corrupt elements to gain a foothold” in the few institutions where corruption was not already omnipresent.

The tide turned, he said, when cadres were finally given political cover by Beijing to report on their comrades engaging in corruption, especially those selling access to government officials and offering bribes for promotion.  That routine had become worrisome to Beijing because unqualified and immoral officials were becoming policy-makers.

Moreover, Wang argued, by focusing on specific areas known to be rife with graft—such as land development and real estate projects, mining rights, and public welfare funds—inspectors showed skeptics and potential targets that this campaign was a serious effort to rollback misconduct.

So what’s next?

That’s the tricky part.  Punishing corruption is one thing; preventing its reemergence could be a far-greater problem.  As one Chinese analyst admitted despondently in the pages of the People’s Daily (in Chinese), unless the system is thoroughly reformed, there’s a good chance that “the rot will come back.”

Continuing to press hard against corruption seems to make sense if Beijing’s expanding fight against graft is finally starting to show success and developing the party’s legitimacy as a problem-solver on issues that matter to the masses. But there’s also concern about just how much longer the campaign can be maintained when, as the analysis above notes, there is “a danger of overdoing something, leaving some people in a constant state of anxiety.”

Fear is evidently freezing some officials from becoming more actively engaged in supporting Xi’s call for changes in how the government operates—a passivity that has led to complaints in the Party media (in Chinese).

And there’s a greater danger:  That this effort to tear down corruption is simply dealing with the existing problems and not doing anything about building a new way of decision-making.

As a leading Chinese commentator on the current leadership’s policies put it in the same People’s Daily essay, the real need is “to create a good political environment, allowing officials to devote oneself, heart and soul, to do things, and not focus on the small circle of relationships one has with one’s superiors, doing always what one is told to do.”

That’s an attractive vision, but one that would require a major restructuring of politics in China.

via To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Ex-Mongolia party officer gets life imprisonment for taking millions in bribes | South China Morning Post

A mainland regional official was sentenced to life imprisonment today for bribe-taking, a court said, the first high-ranking bureaucrat to be jailed in the corruption crackdown overseen by President Xi Jinping.


Wang Suyi, 53, was last year removed from his post as chief of the Communist party’s United Front Work Department in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, an agency that liaises between the ruling organisation and non-communist groups.

He was convicted of bribery and sentenced to life in prison by the First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing, the court said on its official account on Weibo.

He was charged with taking more than 10.73 million yuan (HK$13.5 million) in bribes between 2005 and last year in exchange for securing business deals for companies and promotions for individuals, earlier local media reports said.

Wang was the first official to face criminal trial among the 40 of vice-ministerial or higher rank investigated since China’s once-in-a-decade power transition in 2012 that anointed Xi as chief of the ruling Communist Party, according to the reports.

The South China Morning Post previously quoted a senior editor with a regional party newspaper as saying that Wang’s mistresses accused him of taking 100 million yuan in bribes, and of nepotism involving about 30 relatives.

Xi took office as president last year and has vowed to root out corrupt officials, warning that graft could destroy the ruling party.

Corruption causes widespread public anger in China and the drive has been widely touted.

At least 10 mainland provinces have launched investigations to track down so-called “naked officials”, those whose relatives have moved abroad, and the party is increasingly punishing members on charges of “adultery”, as it tries to clean up cadres’ reputation for corruption and womanising.

But critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to combat it, while citizen activists calling for such measures have been jailed on public order offences.

via Ex-Mongolia party officer gets life imprisonment for taking millions in bribes | South China Morning Post.


China’s Communist Party Reminds Colleges: Keep it Clean – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The chiefs of some of China’s most prestigious universities last week reported to their version of the principal’s office: the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The party-appointed heads of 26 top Chinese colleges and universities were reminded at a meeting last week of their obligations to run honest institutions, according to the commission. The commission, which acts as the internal party watchdog, said the officials signed a clean-governance pledge before the Ministry of Education’s top official, Yuan Guiren, and that several more will do so later this month.

The reminder follows corruption probes by party officials into China’s energy business and the military, where suspicion of corrupt acts has landed numerous officials in detention. Last week, the party booted a former top general from its ranks ahead of prosecution, which analysts described as the most significant takedown since Chinese President Xi Jinping became the party leader in late 2012.

The university sector is getting treated with kid gloves by comparison, based on Tuesday’s statement.

Global corruption watchdog Transparency International alleges universities in many nations are hotbeds for corruption simply because the institutions typically absorb so much of the public purse. In China, it isn’t unusual for government inspectors and the party to remove selected university administrators on allegations of corruption – including bribery related to attending them — but one critic has recently told The Wall Street Journal that such moves represent only the tip of the iceberg.

A separate report this week from China’s party watchdog said that Shanghai’s Fudan University runs business activity that could lead to malfeasance. The school’s party secretary, Zhu Zhiwen, pledged to rectify the problems to avoid possible corruption, according to a summary of the findings published on the school’s website.

Fudan illustrates the challenge. With modest beginnings 109 years ago as a public school that would invite students to seize the dawn – as the Chinese characters of its name denote – Fudan has blossomed into a sprawling institution with over 30,000 students, multiple campuses and 11 affiliated hospitals.

Fudan’s business, the party commission said, exhibited cases of chaotic spending of scientific research funds, mismanaged infrastructure development and poor supervision of school-owned companies during its study earlier this year.

To consider their clean-up challenges, the university’s party administrators are being asked to stand in the corner.

via China’s Communist Party Reminds Colleges: Keep it Clean – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post

A former top Chinese military figure was expelled from the Communist Party for suspected corruption and his case handed over to prosecutors for investigation, the Politburo announced after a meeting on Monday.


The party also decided to expel three cadres closely connected to the nation’s former security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, over allegations of corruption and bribery, Xinhua reported.

A report on the investigation into Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was presented at the Politburo meeting presided over by party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported. The case was handed over to military prosecutors, it reported.

The 71-year-old Xu, who was until 2012 a member of the Politburo, would be the most senior military figure to go on trial for corruption.

“His case is serious and leaves a vile impact,” Xinhua cited a Politburo statement as saying.

The investigation into Xu, launched on March 15, found he had abused his power and received bribes “personally and through his family members” in exchange for granting promotions in the military.

Xu had also sought profits for other people in exchange for cash and properties, which were routed through his family members, Xinhua reported.

The South China Morning Post reported on March 20 that an escort of dozens of armed police had taken Xu from his bed at the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing.

via China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post.


Two major generals detained as graft probes widen in Sichuan | South China Morning Post

Two Chinese major generals that have connections with Sichuan have been detained for a graft investigation, according to two separate sources.


Both People’s Liberation Army officers were taken into custody in May, the sources close to the military said.

One of those held was retired Ye Wanyong, a former commissar of the Sichuan military region. Ye, in his 60s, was removed yesterday from his position as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the nation’s top political advisory body. But the reason was not specified by the CPPCC.

Ye’s house was searched by the authorities, according to the sources.

The other, Wei Jin, 55, is a vice-commissar of the Tibet military region, a post he was promoted to in 2011. He has held senior military posts in the southwest province of Sichuan, including as senior army propaganda officer in Chengdu, the province’s capital.

The latest investigation into Ye and Wei is also believed to be part of the wider anti-corruption campaign in the PLA. President Xi Jinping, who also leads the military as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has repeatedly vowed to clean up the beleaguered military.

Ye left the military in January after reaching the retirement age of 60. He has served in the Sichuan military region since 2006.

His early military career started in Tibet, Sichuan’s neighbour in the west, but most of the time Ye served in liaison offices in Sichuan.

via Two major generals detained as graft probes widen in Sichuan | South China Morning Post.


China targets officials who sent families abroad

China’s anti-graft campaign is now targeting officials who have sent their spouses and children abroad, where they can create channels to potentially funnel illicit gains and establish footholds for eventual escape from the mainland.

Nearly 900, mostly mid-level, government officials in the southern province of Guangdong have been demoted or forced to resign or retire early after being identified as having spouses or offspring with permanent residency or citizenship abroad while they themselves continue to work on the mainland. Because they remain without their families, they are known colloquially as “naked officials” – a term popular with the public because of its mocking tone. It is the first time a provincial government has taken action against them. The move signals a new approach in President Xi Jinping‘s anti-corruption campaign that takes aim at a phenomenon in Chinese politics that has hindered the Communist Party’s efforts to curb the flight of crooked officials and their ill-gotten assets. “The perception among the Chinese public is that these officials use their positions for their personal gains, then they send their families away and when the time comes, they are going to bail,” said Dali Yang, a China expert at the University of Chicago. Guangdong authorities said they found more than 1,000 such officials, among whom about a fifth had promised to try to get their families to return to China.

Though it’s up for debate, the general definition of “naked officials” excludes officials whose children are only studying abroad but not holding foreign residency or passports – allowing the sons and daughters of top leaders to pursue expensive college degrees at top overseas universities.

via China targets officials who sent families abroad.


Why Chinese Officials Are Resigning From Company Boards Left and Right – China Real Time Report – WSJ

In concept, a company’s independent directors serve to check abuse of power and protect shareholders. In practice here in China, they’re often seen as a vehicle for corruption, as companies stack their boards with government officials who accept handsome compensation for the post and do an indifferent job.

China’s central authorities have been cracking down on the phenomenon, with the Communist Party issuing a circular last October banning officials and college professors from holding second jobs. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, as of this week, more than 200 listed companies have reported independent director resignations.

October’s directive—which also said officials could only take on such posts following a three-year cooling-off period once they leave office—isn’t the first time that the party had cracked down on such activities: In 2009 and 2011, the country’s education and finance departments also banned cadres from taking outside jobs or holding independent director posts.

Still, according to statistics from the party-controlled China Youth Daily, in a survey of 5,760 independent directors at Shenzhen and Shanghai-listed companies conducted last year, fully 45% had government backgrounds.

A Monday editorial in party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said it was important for cadres “not to mistakenly convert their public power into private power, or to mistakenly think they have captivating backgrounds, when in fact all people are seeing is their backgrounds.” Official resignations from company boards, the paper said, would be a way to “purify” the party.

The move to purge company boards of officials comes as President Xi Jinping has pushed a broader anti-corruption drive that has encompassed a crackdown on everything from lavish weddings and funerals to red carpets and even luxury mooncakes. After decades of breakneck economic growth that has disproportionately benefited companies and individuals with political connections, the party is eager to erase the notion that the country’s economic system is rigged, particularly as growth has begun to slow, political analysts say.

via Why Chinese Officials Are Resigning From Company Boards Left and Right – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Businessman linked to China’s ex-security tsar sentenced to death | Reuters

A former mining magnate with suspected ties to the family of China’s retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang was sentenced to death on Friday on charges of leading a gang on a crime spree spanning two decades.

Liu Han, former chairman of Hanlong Mining, smokes a cigarette during a conference in Mianyang, Sichuan province, in this file photo taken March 21, 2008.REUTERS/Stringer/Files

The sentencing of Liu Han, handed down by a court in the central province of Hubei, was the culmination of one of the highest-profile cases against a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office last year and began a campaign against pervasive graft.

Liu’s younger brother Liu Yong, also known as Liu Wei, was also sentenced to death. Microblog statements from state media outlets China Central Television and the Xinhua news agency said the brothers, along with their 36-member “mafia-style” gang, committed intentional homicide.

Xi’s crackdown has zeroed in on Sichuan province, where Liu’s company – privately held Hanlong Mining – is based. Sichuan was a power base for Zhou, the retired chief of China’s vast domestic security apparatus, who stands at the centre of the biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades, sources have told Reuters.

Sources have told Reuters that Liu was once a business associate of Zhou Bin, Zhou Yongkang’s eldest son.

State media have not explicitly linked Liu’s case to Zhou Yongkang, but have said Liu’s rise coincided with Zhou’s time as Sichuan’s Communist Party boss.

Liu’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Willy Lam, a scholar of Chinese history and politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there would be extra attention paid to the case because of Liu’s links to the Zhou family.

“I think what’s happening is that Xi Jinping and (Party anti-corruption tsar) Wang Qishan want to establish a harsh precedent because this is one of the biggest corruption cases since Xi took over,” Lam said. “They want to set a precedent to make people afraid, in a sense, to have a deterrence impact on corrupt officials.”

via Businessman linked to China’s ex-security tsar sentenced to death | Reuters.

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The Communist Party: The gatekeepers | The Economist

IN RECENT days government office-workers around China have been called into meetings to study an article written nearly a quarter of a century ago by an obscure local leader on how to be a good secretary. Its advice—act modestly and don’t abuse your position for profit—would be banal were it not for the job the author now holds. The article was written by the current president, Xi Jinping. Those attending know full well that the purpose of the meetings is not to share tips on how to keep bosses happy, but to focus minds on a bigger issue: that personal assistants to leaders are often hugely powerful and sometimes just as hugely corrupt. And Mr Xi wants to rein them in.

A string of detentions has shed new light on the power of mishu, as these assistants are known. Between June and February, news emerged of investigations into four former mishu of Zhou Yongkang, a retired member of the Communist Party’s supreme body, the Politburo standing committee. Although the party does not say so, it is an open secret that Mr Zhou is the main target of China’s biggest anti-corruption campaign in years. He is the first person of standing-committee rank to face a corruption inquiry since the party came to power in 1949. Mr Xi appears not to want state-controlled media to mention Mr Zhou or his sins until a case against him is fully prepared. But the mishu, along with several other associates of Mr Zhou who have been detained in recent months, have become fairer game.

The alleged offences of the “mishu gang”, as the four have been dubbed in the Chinese press, appear to relate at least partly to activities after they left Mr Zhou’s service. In China a personal assistant to a high-ranking leader is often chosen by the leader himself—sometimes plucked from obscurity—and retains high rank even after his boss has moved to a different job (if he is not taken along to the new post).

There is plenty of scope for corruption as a mishu, because of the control the job gives over access to the leader. There is also great opportunity for acquiring independent power. Mr Zhou’s four former secretaries went on to take up high-ranking positions in government and state-owned business. Knowing the dark secrets of their former bosses gives ex-mishu a useful bargaining chip in acquiring plum jobs. The former bosses can benefit from placing their one-time confidants in positions they wish to influence.

via The Communist Party: The gatekeepers | The Economist.

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Mumbai Shop Owners: Cut Taxes and Tame Corruption, Please – India Real Time – WSJ

As Mumbai’s traders hit the polls Thursday, many said they voted in favor of lower taxes and against corruption. High income and sales tax, import duty and rising prices have made it tougher to do business, many shop owners said.

Chetan Pishtoi at his plywood store, Sagar Ply, in South Mumbai. Shanoor Seervai/The Wall Street Journal

“In the past, I voted for the Congress,” says Chetan Pishtoi, a plywood-shop owner at Colaba market in South Mumbai, referring to the political party that currently leads India’s national government. “But now my eyes have opened. I see what [Narendra] Modi has done in Gujarat. If he wins, maybe he will do the same for India,” says Mr. Pishtoi, 30 years old.

Mr. Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, is campaigning on the economic strength of the western state of Gujarat, where he is chief minister.

Mr. Pishtoi says food prices rose so much in recent years that he had to give his employees raises. “The public in Mumbai are sleeping hungry and the government hasn’t done anything about it,” Mr. Pishtoi says. Tomatoes and onions, he says, are priced beyond the reach of many.

Raju Lalwani at his men’s clothing store in Mumbai. Shanoor Seervai/The Wall Street Journal

Raju Lalwani, who runs a men’s clothes store, is also concerned about inflation. “Cloth has become so expensive, and even the tailors charge too much for stitching,” Mr. Lalwani says. “If the political party changes, maybe business will improve.”

His shop, Lovely Silk Stores, has been a family-run business for three generations. But the 58-year-old says his children won’t inherit the business. His son is studying to be an accountant, and his daughter is in grade 12.

via Mumbai Shop Owners: Cut Taxes and Tame Corruption, Please – India Real Time – WSJ.

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