Posts tagged ‘Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China’

21/02/2016

Xi takes nuclear option in bid to rule for life | The Sunday Times

Very worrying, if true.

CHINA is moving towards one-man rule as the state media step up demands for personal loyalty to President Xi Jinping, a departure from the Communist party’s collective leadership of recent decades.

Xi Jinping appears to be building a personality cult around him as Mao did

Last week the party’s flagship newspaper issued a call for Xi to have the power to “remake the political landscape of China”. The article, supposedly written by one of a literary group, was put out on a social media account run by the People’s Daily. It said all communists must be loyal to Xi and “line up with the leadership”.

The campaign to enshrine Xi as the infallible “core” of authority is worrying many inside the political elite and coincides with China exerting its military muscle and possibly preparing to change its nuclear weapons strategy.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has just stationed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea. The Chinese expansion comes as Barack Obama rallies Asian nations to support free navigation in the strategic waterway. The prospect of one man dominating the party, the state and the army in China could be the most challenging test in the next American president’s in-tray.

Xi’s grand plans include a total reorganisation of the Chinese military command structure that has included an internal debate about its nuclear weapons. Xi recently formed a dedicated PLA rocket force to control the nuclear ballistic missile arsenal. A report for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US-based group, says China may be considering placing its nuclear forces on alert, which means that, like America and Britain, its weapons would be ready to fire on command.

That would be a shift of position for a nation that affirms it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict. China has already started an ambitious programme to upgrade its older missiles with multiple warheads like those of other nuclear powers.

Rising military budgets show that despite the slower Chinese economy and big flows of capital out of the country, Xi is seizing any initiative to turn nationalism to his advantage. A source who grew up in the party’s privileged residential compounds in Beijing said the moves harked back to an earlier era: “There is a fear among the families, the long-time party members for generations, that this guy wants to make himself into another Chairman Mao and rule for life.”

It is clear that, like Mao, Xi, 62, is using articles and essays in the state media, often penned by pseudonymous authors or published in the provinces, to intimidate his enemies and promote himself.

Last week a social media platform controlled by the Beijing Daily, the voice of the capital’s municipal committee, launched a striking attack on a party faction opposed to Xi, the Communist Youth League. Officials connected to the league were “ambitious aristocrats whose self-serving attitude did no good to the party and led to scandals”, it sneered.

Targeting the league — whose members include the prime minister, Li Keqiang, and the former president, Hu Jintao — is a signal that Xi has broken with the consensus set after the unrest of 1989 that the party’s factions do not attack one another in public. In the past, a league connection meant a fast-track to promotion for young high-flyers. Now it seems to be a liability.

A study by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection — the party watchdog unleashed by Xi against rivals accused of corruption — has criticised the “mentality” of league members. The commission’s propaganda publication, the China Discipline Inspection Paper, warned against “those who form their own circles inside the party” and referred to fallen officials as “gangs”.

This Mao-era language singled out the “petroleum gang” under the purged security chief, Zhou Yongkang, whose cronies dominated the Chinese oil industry, and the “secretary gang” around Ling Jihua, a close aide to Hu and a former league stalwart. Ling is already under arrest on corruption and bribery charges.

Defining people as members of “gangs” or “cliques” is a classic tactic of communist infighting and a prelude to destroying them.

Chilled by the signals from the top, half the provincial party chiefs in the country this month pledged allegiance to Xi as “the core”.

The term represents a significant change from the language used about Xi’s predecessors, Hu and Jiang Zemin, who were referred to as being only “at the core” of a collective leadership. The last strongman in China, Deng Xiaoping, exercised his power behind the scenes and scorned a cult of personality.”

Source: Xi takes nuclear option in bid to rule for life | The Sunday Times

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01/07/2015

China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Quality over quantity. Less is more.

Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”

Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.

In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.

China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.

At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.

The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population.

Yet despite a vow by China’s Politburo leaders to limit the party’s size and purge “unqualified members,” statistics released by the Organization Department show that membership has actually grown over each of the past four years, albeit at an increasingly slower rate.

via China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

07/05/2015

Corruption: Not so far away | The Economist

“THE mountains are high; the emperor is far away,” goes a Chinese saying that has always given comfort to bureaucrats who play fast and loose with the law in remote parts of the country. But often, these days, distance is not enough. Those who hanker after the added protection of a foreign jurisdiction are often called “naked officials”. The term describes people who have moved families and assets abroad in readiness for escape themselves. Now, however, anti-graft officers are trying to extend their reach beyond China’s borders.

Since late last year, as part of the most intense and sustained anti-corruption drive in the history of Communist-ruled China, officials have been stepping up efforts to persuade foreign countries to send back those who have fled with their ill-gotten gains. On April 22nd they released a wanted list, together with mugshots, of 100 such people, as part of a new operation called Sky Net. The list was compiled by a Communist Party body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), whose agents often hold suspects in secret detention and torture them. “We will apprehend them no matter where they flee to,” Fu Kui, a member of the CCDI, told state media. The operation involves other agencies such as the police, the central bank and the foreign ministry.

Among the wanted fugitives, for whom Interpol has issued arrest warrants, 48 were the most senior officials in their workplaces. One was the deputy head of a provincial construction bureau accused of fleeing to America with 250m yuan ($40m) in embezzled funds. Another was a county-level finance official who allegedly took 94m yuan to Singapore.

Officials say that Sky Net is a new phase of Operation Fox Hunt, a campaign launched by the police last year to secure the repatriation of criminals (not just the corrupt). Officials say the exercise has been a success, having secured the repatriation of 680 fugitives from 69 countries. On April 27th the state prosecutor’s office said a further 61 people suspected of “dereliction of duty” had been arrested after spending time on the run abroad. Many had turned themselves in.

But anti-corruption officials have a big problem: the 39 countries with which China has extradition treaties do not include America, Australia or Canada, which are among the favoured destinations of corrupt fugitives. China has been pressing these countries for more co-operation. After a visit to Beijing in April by Jeh Johnson, America’s secretary for homeland security, state media said America “actively” supported China’s efforts. The Americans say they have agreed to a more “streamlined” procedure for handing back Chinese nationals whom they decide to repatriate. But they insist that such cases be handled according to American law and “values”.

China says it has sent 61 agents abroad (it has not said where) to “persuade” accused fugitives to return and face justice. It has also been trying a new tactic: scaring them with horror stories. State media last month reported one fugitive in America who dared not even see a doctor, so worried was he that his identity might become known. He returned home of his own will, a broken man.

via Corruption: Not so far away | The Economist.

10/04/2015

Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist

IN RECENT weeks official media have published a flurry of opinion polls. One in China Daily showed that most people in the coastal cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou think that smog is getting worse. Another noted the high salary expectations of university students. Yet another found that over two-thirds of respondents in Henan province in central China regard local officials as inefficient and neglectful of their duties. For decades the Communist Party has claimed to embody and express the will of the masses. Now it is increasingly seeking to measure that will—and let it shape at least some of the party’s policies.

Since the party seized power in 1949 it has repeatedly unleashed public opinion only to suppress it with force, from the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” in 1956, when it briefly tolerated critical voices, to the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. For the past two decades, the party has effectively bought people’s obedience by promising—and delivering—a better, richer future. This will be tougher in the years ahead as the economy slows. Members of a huge new middle class are demanding more from their government in areas ranging from the environment to the protection of property rights. So the party must respond to concerns in order to retain its legitimacy.

Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader in 2012, has shown even less inclination than his predecessors to let citizens express their preferences through the ballot box. Yet the public has become ever more vocal on a wide variety of issues—online, through protests, and increasingly via responses to opinion polls and government-arranged consultations over the introduction of some new laws. The party monitors this clamour to detect possible flashpoints, and it frequently censors dissent. But the government is also consulting people, through opinion polls that try to establish their views on some of the big issues of the day as well as on specific policies. Its main aim is to devise ways to keep citizens as happy as possible in their daily lives. It avoids stickier subjects such as political reform or human rights. But people are undoubtedly gaining a stronger voice.

via Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist.

07/04/2015

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.

04/04/2015

Poverty in China: Just a little bit richer | The Economist

THE villagers of Dingjiayan subsist on corn, potatoes, sunflowers and the few vegetables they grow. They sell the surplus and buy meat and a few other necessities in the nearby county town of Tianzhen. Its mud-and-brick buildings, and its setting among dusty hills in the north-eastern corner of Shanxi province, offer little to the occasional visitor to distinguish it from countless other parts of China where hard work brings but a meagre living. Yet Tianzhen county, of which Dingjiayan is a part, is one of just 592 areas that the central government designates as “impoverished”.

China’s official threshold for rural poverty is an annual income of 2,300 yuan ($370) per person. But the criteria for classifying a village or county are complex and often revised. They include comparisons of poverty rates and average incomes with those of the province, adjustments for inflation, quotas on the number of villages that may count as poor and a ban on including villages that own collective enterprises, whatever their income level. Though dozens of places have been listed and delisted every few years since the 1990s, the total has remained curiously fixed—at 592.

An “impoverished” designation brings substantial subsidies. But Ding Tianyu, who has lived in Dingjiayan for all his 73 years, says he hardly notices. Most households earn about 10,000 yuan a year, he says, and get a subsidy of 80 yuan for each mu (614 square metres) of land they farm. “I have five mu,” Mr Ding says. “When there is enough rain I am fine, and when I get the subsidy I feel just a little bit richer.”

With bustling shops and a fair number of pricey cars on its roads, Tianzhen’s county town does not, by Chinese standards, feel impoverished. There is little disclosure about how subsidies are used, says a restaurant owner. “We are told a lot of it goes into the local credit union and that we can apply for loans there, but they only lend to people with good connections.”

In 2012, when the list was last updated, Xinshao county in Hunan in south-central China was added. Local officials used the county’s official website to trumpet this “exceptional good tidings” after two years of “arduous efforts” and “untold hardships”. A large roadside board added its “ardent congratulations”. After nationwide criticism, the officials accepted that their words had been badly chosen. But their cheer was understandable: the official designation was worth an extra 560m yuan for the county each year from the central government.

The episode caused many to question the value of the system and the perverse incentives it creates for local governments. A commentary last year in the Legal Daily claimed that many places were misusing the funds and had fudged their figures to qualify as impoverished. Officials from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, which manages the list, have acknowledged widespread abuses. In February it banned lavish new buildings and “image projects” in officially designated poor areas.

State television reported on two counties, one in Ningxia and one in Hubei, where local governments spent 100m yuan each on new headquarters. In March, during China’s annual full legislative session, the council’s poverty head, Liu Yongfu, raised a different question about the programme. He told the Southern Metropolis, a newspaper, that hundreds of counties would be taken off the list by 2020. “If a poor area as big as a county still exists, then can Chinese society still be called moderately prosperous?” he asked.

Attainment of a “moderately prosperous society” is a goal that previous Chinese leaders set and that Xi Jinping, the current president, has adopted as well. Much progress has been made since reforms began in earnest in the late 1970s. China claims to have lifted 620m people out of poverty since then. Others may quibble over that number—the World Bank puts it at 500m—but few question the premise that China deserves immense credit for alleviating so much poverty.

Much still remains, however. A little uphill from Dingjiayan sits a smaller village, Dingyuanyao. Its higher elevation means it gets less water, and a resident says most of its 90 residents will clear just 1,000 yuan a year after paying for seeds and fertiliser. Some own motorbikes and televisions, and they are grateful for the basic health insurance they receive. They laugh in unison when asked if they receive subsidies. The arrival of electricity 30 years ago was a vast improvement, they agree. But little has changed in their lives since then.

via Poverty in China: Just a little bit richer | The Economist.

03/02/2015

China’s Antigraft Drive Turns to Financial Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

President Xi Jinping’s two-year antigraft campaign is hitting China’s vast financial sector, according to officials with knowledge of the matter, after investigators began questioning a senior executive at a major bank over his political ties and a board member at a second lender regarding possible corruption. As the WSJ’s Lingling Wei reports:

Mao Xiaofeng, until recently a rising star at China Minsheng Banking Corp. , resigned as president for “personal reasons,” Minsheng said on Saturday. Chinese anticorruption officials are questioning Mr. Mao over his ties to a former top Chinese Communist Party official, Ling Jihua, who is himself being investigated by graft inspectors, according to an official at one of China’s financial regulatory agencies.

And late Monday nightBank of Beijing Co. said that Lu Haijun, a board member, is being investigated over “possible serious violations” of party discipline—a euphemism for corruption among Chinese officials. A statement the bank posted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange said its operations aren’t affected by the probe.

via China’s Antigraft Drive Turns to Financial Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

10/12/2014

Former top planning official jailed for life in China over graft | Reuters

The former deputy head of China’s top planning agency was jailed for life on Wednesday over a bribery scandal that exposed graft at the highest levels of China’s government, and ensnared several companies including Toyota Motor Corp.

Liu Tienan, then deputy chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), attends a news conference in Beijing in this February 27, 2009 file photograph. Liu, a deputy chairman of China's top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is under investigation for suspected ''serious discipline violations'', state media said on 12 May, 2013, REUTERS/Stringer/Files

The sentence, handed down by a court just outside of Beijing, capped the downfall of Liu Tienan, who was sacked as deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last year, a position that carries ministerial-level status.

Liu was the first ministerial-level official to face an investigation after Xi Jinping became Communist Party head in late 2012 and launched the most aggressive anti-graft campaign China has seen in decades.

via Former top planning official jailed for life in China over graft | Reuters.

28/10/2014

Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters

China’s top prosecuting body said on Tuesday that whistleblowers who expose corruption and other wrongdoing would receive legal protection against reprisals.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting graft a central theme of his administration, warning that the problem was so severe it could threaten the survival of the ruling Communist Party.

The party is keen to harness the power of the Internet in the fight, although it has been hampered by public suspicion that complaints will be ignored, and also by arrests of and even attacks on online whistleblowers.

A statement on the website of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said it was clarifying the rights of whistleblowers for the first time through new regulations.

“The ‘regulations governing the work of whistleblowers’ require that when the prosecutor’s office receives a whistleblowing report from someone giving their real name, it has to assess the risks from the whistleblowing and develop whistleblower protection plans when necessary to prevent and end acts of retaliation against the whistleblowers,” the statement said.

The prosecutor also promised to respond quickly to such reports.

Last year, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, set up a new website for whistleblowers.

The government had previously set up a website in 2009 specifically for the reporting of corruption. Authorities have investigated some online accusations and jailed several low-level officials.

It is unclear how many tips the site has received in recent months. From 2008 to 2012 the commission said it received 301,000 whistleblowing reports online.

via Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters.

08/07/2014

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.

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