ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Politics

China's 'tiger' corruption cases wane, showing Xi's stamp on party

No top officials disciplined last year as focus turns elsewhere

Chinese President Xi Jinping: The Communist Party punished no top-level officials last year.   © Kyodo

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

The party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection punished 27 provincial- and ministerial-level officials in 2020, down from 41 in 2019, the country's top corruption-fighting agency says.

No officials from the party's roughly 200-strong Central Committee were disciplined -- a first since Xi became general secretary in November 2012 -- nor were any alternate members of the committee or members of the discipline commission itself.

"Almost all of the top officials have been appointed by Xi's government, so there's a risk that any new [corruption] allegations could rebound on Xi given his responsibility for naming them," said Tomoki Kamo, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

Xi announced the anti-graft 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, a rise linked to a fierce power struggle ahead of the twice-a-decade party congress that October. That year saw Sun Zhengcai, the then-party secretary for Chongqing, removed from office, among others.

Many of the "tigers" caught up in the crackdown had ties to former President Jiang Zemin and other figures at odds with Xi.

The lull in high-profile cases does not mean the anti-graft campaign is over. The focus simply seems to have moved further down the hierarchy.

The total number of party members disciplined, from high-level officials to the rank and file, rose to roughly 600,000 last year from around 590,000 in 2019. This includes many Wuhan officials faulted for their clumsy handling of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

Another focus is China's security apparatus. At a January meeting of the discipline commission, Xi called for strong action against corruption and discipline violations in legal and political agencies.

The party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission oversees a vast array of powers, including the police, security forces, prosecutors and courts. Once dominated by Zhou Yongkang, an early target of Xi's purge, it is arguably the last area to be touched by the Chinese leader's power grab.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more