Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Why China’s Current Anti-Corruption Campaign is Different [Wall Street Journal] #RisingChina #Corruption #NewLeadership


By hook or by crook, this systemic dent has always impeded China’s full potential.

It has been one of its major Achilles heels since antiquity. That said and I argue again, it is not corruption that troubles, but the means of facilitating one’s ascent in contemporary Chinese society. One need to be a an increasingly big spender to afford an entourage. The entourage too has mouths to feed and the mouths are real. Desires are at a all fine high with advertising texts robbing Chinese skylines of their natural harmony with the environment – today feeding consumerism is the name of the game.

The one seeking ascendancy is no longer feeding an entourage of farmers from the village. The downstream effect that you have to be generous too their family to gain utmost trust is an expensive one in today’s terms.

A study of the major Chinese narratives and works of literature, right down to contemporary state sponsored Chinese-made TV today reveals much. It is an inherently deep Chinese lament. In the past when the Chinese echelons got corrupt and softened, foreign powers sat on their throne as recent as living memory.

Wang Qishan – man for the job to prevent this negative slide?

– – –

Why China’s Current Anti-Corruption Campaign is Different
By Russell Leigh Moses
Dean of Academics and Faculty at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies
Source – Wall Street Journal China Realtime Report, published May 30, 2013

After witnessing previous campaigns against corruption fizzle out, or turn into an excuse for political backstabbing, the Chinese public might well be skeptical about President Xi Jinping’s latest attempt to rectify the Communist Party.

This present campaign, however, is beginning to look very different from the usual side-stepping that is done largely to impress the public.

And if reform-minded party cadres throw their support Mr. Xi’s way, it could turn into a broader effort to make the party more accountable.

Please click here to read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.

20130531-095249.jpg
Wang Qishan, China’s anti-corruption czar. Photo by Bloomberg News

What is strikingly different about the current campaign is its apparent lack of political opportunism. Where previous Chinese leaders employed anti-corruption efforts as just another strategy to decapitate political opponents, there’s no such pattern under Mr. Xi.

There’s been no high-profile takedown of a particular local faction, or of a specific group of officials that was reluctant to reform or tried to be independent of Beijing’s directives. There have been no substantial rumors of anyone seeking high-level protection from one of Xi’s predecessors, either.

Instead, everyone seems vulnerable.

Even the basic perks of Party membership—government expense accounts, official license plates, private clubs and now VIP cards —have been pulled away.

So, if it’s not a purge of political adversaries, what’s the point of this new campaign?

Put simply, it’s aimed at party renewal–an effort to change the general behavior of officials by pointing out the sleaze that has slipped into Party ranks (in Chinese).

As anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan noted recently, the campaign is intended to instill “a sense of awe” among cadres of the consequences of continued malfeasance (in Chinese). This sounds as if it’s not going to be a once-off effort, with all sins forgiven after a warning or two.

Indeed, Mr. Wang and his like-minded colleagues appear eager to work differently this time around.

For example, they’re looking to include the Chinese public into the task of muckraking.

While there’s a skeptical tone in some Chinese news coverage of the role of Internet user — and more than a little anger about those engaged in rumor-mongering — some local governments have been actively using information supplied by activists to stop the sort of wasteful expenditures that the central government seems determined to curb (in Chinese).

Likewise, Mr. Wang’s drive to cut out card-carrying by cadres is being trumpeted in parts of the blogosphere (in Chinese).

The question now is how far reformers will support the campaign.

For some time now, there have been voices in the Party who imply that the struggle against malfeasance in the ranks is a sideshow; that true reform is found in constructing good governance at all levels (in Chinese).

These cadres think that as necessary as anti-corruption efforts are to show a new seriousness on the part of Beijing, there is also “the need to improve the system by which power is supervised”; that it’s important to not only keep authority under observation, but also restrain it (in Chinese).

Building a better Party, in their view, means erecting better institutions (in Chinese), not simply punishing and purging.

Their take is that what Mr. Wang and his team are pursuing is fine, especially when it’s codified into new, written regulations. But the smackdown should act as a lead-in to a larger restructuring of politics in the system, they argue, and not stop at just scaring the usual suspects.

As with other current debates in the Communist Party, Mr. Xi and his comrades are faced with a choice.

Do they lean towards one side—say, with hardline conservatives who think the present clampdowns show the public that the Communist Party is in command, and that’s good enough?

Or does Mr. Xi work even harder with the reformist wing of the party, and seek to break the grip of party purists, who believe that the system is not really rotten enough to warrant political reform?

Mr. Xi’s new political script has been nearly letter-perfect thus far. But in deciding how to direct the next act of this drama, Mr. Xi will have to work hard to convince reformers that the rewriting he and his allies have rendered in the past few months are more than simply a few new lines in a play they’ve all seen before.

Russell Leigh Moses is the Dean of Academics and Faculty at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. He is writing a book on the changing role of power in the Chinese political system.

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Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Communications, Corruption, Domestic Growth, Education, Finance, Fu Er Dai 富二代, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Wall Street Journal

One Response

  1. Xi certainly seems to be succeeding. The people of Taiwan trust him more than they trust their own, recently-elected President!

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