Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Former Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang has now been formally charged with bribery and abuse of power, in what appears to be yet another triumph in President Xi Jinping’s strategy to go after “tigers and flies”— in Chinese political parlance, both senior leaders and junior officials.

By all accounts, the hunting and the swatting have been a major success for Xi. The effort appears to be both popular and effective. For Xi, it has the added benefit of consolidating his political command.

That’s the good news.

But Zhou’s prosecution is coming at an important moment for the anticorruption campaign. A number of signs suggest that Xi’s strategy is beginning to show its age. Specifically, it appears Xi and his supporters are having an increasingly difficult time selling the idea that Beijing’s current approach is successfully rooting out the corruption that too often plagues Chinese politics.

First, there’s the fall-off in high-profile news coverage of cadres caught being bad. China’s state-controlled media still runs stories of officials who are being investigated for possible criminal conduct, as with allegations of bribery in the Chongqing city works department and claims of graft committed by a deputy director at the main television network in Anhui province.  But the focus in recent weeks has been on the identification and extradition of allegedly corrupt Chinese officials who have fled overseas. By broadcasting about those who are hiding abroad, Beijing is trying to pivot away from the persistence of graft at home. Indeed, the more cadres that are caught in-country, the more intractable the problem of corruption has to appear.

Then there’s the growing coverage in China’s state media of “maintaining political discipline”—code words for both party unity and getting cadres to conduct themselves according to rules and regulations set by the leadership.  That emphasis underscores the alternative view of some Communist party members that Beijing should rethink the way it trains and promotes cadres, rather than constantly supervising and occasionally punishing them. This conversation is taking place across major party publications, illustrating indecision in some quarters about which weapons the government should be wielding in the war on graft.

Xi’s supporters have also been forced on the defensive by the argument that the anticorruption campaign is having a deleterious effect on an already slowing national economy.  A recent essay that appeared in the Communist party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and various affiliated outlets argued that this “misconception needed clarification,” and went on to insist that “the anticorruption effort isn’t an obstacle but a way to smooth the path of economic development by removing inefficiencies and thereby provide positive energy,” especially in the realm of public opinion.

Even anticorruption czar Wang Qishan has had to come out in the past few days to defend the effort to go after “tigers and flies,” urging more grassroots efforts to identify corrupt officials and asking for patience from the public and fellow party members because, he insisted, “changing the political ethos is not achieved overnight.”

If Xi and his allies were in complete control of the anticorruption narrative, there’d be little need to have to counter criticism of Beijing’s current strategy.

It isn’t clear how this announcement about Zhou will end up playing out in the party ranks. If the formal charges against Zhou help to revitalize Xi’s anticorruption campaign, the strategy of striking hard will reinforce the sense that Xi is still on the right path. But to some cadres who want more accountability and party reform instead of political revenge, it may read like old news.

via Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India

%d bloggers like this: