Today’s ‘Kings Without Crowns?’ — The Growing Powers of Xi’s Party Disciplinarians – China Real Time Report – WSJ

After hunting corrupt cadres over the past three years, the Communist Party’s much-feared graftbusters are switching gears to political policing.

In the process, they have emerged with an authority perhaps unparalleled since ancient China.

With President Xi Jinping’s blessing, the already-powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is stationing inspectors in all central party and government departments, extending its reach into the top echelons of China’s bureaucracy.

In addition to targeting graft and waste, the CCDI has also become a kind of thought police for officials, academics and propagandists. Its inspectors are increasingly denouncing those deemed disloyalty to the party leadership.

The agency’s expanded scope reminded the Procuratorial Daily (in Chinese), a newspaper run by China’s top prosecutorial agency, of how Ming Dynasty rulers in the 14th century fortified a body of imperial censors who hunted errant officials in the name of the emperor.

Embedded in the Ming court’s six ministries, the censors could make direct representations to the emperor, despite their relatively junior rank, and assist the monarch in administrative tasks.

“But their most important power was to inspect the six ministries and impeach ministers,” the newspaper said. “It was this special status that made them ‘kings without crowns’ in the Ming Dynasty court.”

Recent developments, legal experts say, suggest that Mr. Xi is transforming the agency from a party watchdog into an arm of government.

“In effect, Xi Jinping is creating a parallel bureaucracy that can go around existing party and government institutions, to make things happen,” said Carl Minzner, a law professor at Fordham University who studies the Chinese legal system.

Disciplinary inspectors have also found a role in imposing party ideology beyond the traditional corridors of power.

Source: Today’s ‘Kings Without Crowns?’ — The Growing Powers of Xi’s Party Disciplinarians – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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