Wandering China

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

Hunting tigers: In cracking down on corrupt officials, Xi Jinping must not forget fundamental reforms [Economist] #RisingChina #Reform #Corruption

Another tiger bites the dust? Jiang Jiemin 蒋洁敏 (here for biography) removed as head state asset regulator.

China sacks head of state asset regulator Jiang Jiemin amid graft probe (SCMP, September 3, 2013)

China Probes State-Assets Head as Anti-Graft Push Widens (Bloomberg, September 2, 2013)

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Hunting tigers- In cracking down on corrupt officials, Xi Jinping must not forget fundamental reforms
Source – Economist, published Sep 7th 2013 | From the print edition

photo source -AP

A DRIVE against corruption? Or a political purge? Or a bit of both? Outside China, not many people noticed the dismissal of Jiang Jiemin, the minister overseeing China’s powerful state-owned enterprises (SOEs). His charge—“serious violations of discipline”—is party-speak for corruption. Officials at CNPC, a state-run oil giant which Mr Jiang used to run, have also been charged. But in Beijing it fits a pattern. It follows on from the trial of Bo Xilai, the princeling who ran the huge region of Chongqing and was a notable rival of Xi Jinping, China’s president. Mr Xi now seems to be gunning for an even bigger beast: Zhou Yongkang, Mr Jiang’s mentor, an ally of Mr Bo’s, and until last year the head of internal security whom Mr Bo once hoped to replace (see article).

Mr Xi vows to fight corrupt officials large and small—“tigers” and “flies” as he puts it. He has certainly made as much or more noise about graft as his predecessors. If Mr Zhou is pursued for corruption, it will break an unwritten rule that the standing committee should not go after its own members, past or present. And there are good reasons for Mr Xi to stamp out corruption. He knows that ill-gotten wealth is, to many ordinary people, the chief mark against the party. It also undermines the state’s economic power.

But this corruption drive is also open to another interpretation. To begin with, the tigers being rounded up are Mr Xi’s enemies. Mr Bo had hoped to use Chongqing as the springboard to the Politburo’s standing committee. The verdict on Mr Bo, expected any day, is a foregone conclusion. His sentence will be decided at the highest levels of the Communist Party, and it can only be harsh. Party politics, as seen by its players, is an all-or-nothing game, and the stakes are even higher when family prestige and fortunes are at stake.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Economist.

Mr Xi is also open to the charge of being selective about leaving other tigers untouched. His own family’s fortune, piggy-banking off Mr Xi’s career, runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. Even as Mr Xi rails against corruption, he has overseen a crackdown on reformers calling, among other things, for the assets of senior cadres to be disclosed. And although the party makes much of how Mr Bo’s trial is the rule of law at work, many of the moves against Mr Bo, Mr Jiang and Mr Zhou appear to be taking place in a parallel and obscure system of detention for party members known as shuanggui.

Now set out your stall, Mr Xi

So China is entering a crucial period. The optimistic interpretation of all this is that Mr Xi is not just consolidating his own power but also restoring political unity. This will free him to push ahead with the deep but difficult economic reforms that he has promised and that China so badly needs if growth is not to stumble; it would also allow him to drive harder against corruption. The SOEs are bound to be part of both campaigns.

The test will come at a party plenum in November. There, Mr Xi should make it clear that even his friends are not above the law. A register of official interests would be laudable, and a few trials of people from Mr Xi’s own camp would send a message. He should also tie his campaign against graft to economic liberalisation: break up the various boondoggles and monopolies, and there will be far fewer chances for theft. It is still not clear whether Mr Xi’s “Chinese Dream” is a commitment to reform or maintaining the status quo. For China’s sake, it had better be reform.

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The Economist

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