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Politics

Xi's corruption crackdown nets hundreds of party 'tigers'

Anti-graft body claims to punish thousands of high-ranking officials

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, center, and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Sept. 30.   © AP

BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign has targeted at least 280 officials at or above the vice minister level in the five years since he came to power, according to the tally kept by the state's anti-graft watchdog.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection also said it has cracked down on 8,600 officials at the bureau or department chief tier. The agency says it has helped restore the people's trust in the Communist Party of China and reinforced the legitimacy of the one-party state.

The figures were announced before the CCDI approved a five-year activities report at Monday's plenary session. The document will be submitted at the twice-a-decade party congress that begins Oct. 18.

The CCDI's meeting was held under tight security at premises where military and other special vehicles were seen coming in and out. After participants discussed and endorsed the contents of the CCDI's report, commission head Wang Qishan delivered a speech.

Details of the report and Wang's speech have yet to be released.

The CCDI's plenary session typically takes place concurrently with the Central Committee's just before the national party congress. But this time around, the meetings are being held separately. The move seems geared at highlighting the party's broad anti-corruption campaign, which is being touted by the leadership as the greatest achievement of Xi's first term as party chief and president.

That same day, the CCDI stripped He Ting of his party affiliation. The former vice mayor and police chief of the major city of Chongqing was close to Sun Zhengcai, the former regional party chief who fell from grace in a corruption probe. He Ting is alleged to be involved in the graft.

Xi has repeatedly stressed that the Communist Party will lose popular support -- and eventually its grip on power -- unless its widespread corruption is stamped out. Also among the powerful "tigers" the CCDI has brought down were Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission. Guo was sentenced to life in prison, while Xu died of cancer in March 2015 while in detention.

The anti-graft crusade also has swept through peripheral party and government organs that have more frequent contact with ordinary citizens, with 1.3 million officials punished. The CCDI asserts that 92.9% of Chinese citizens were satisfied with the crackdown on corruption in 2016, up from 75% in 2012.

The government plans to inaugurate an independent anti-corruption commission during next spring's National People's Congress, the legislature. This new body will work together with the existing system under which the central party organization dispatches investigators to various organs and local governments.

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