The warning from President Xi Jinping in his recent new year’s address could hardly be described as “comforting” for corrupt officials — “We will go after you, case by case, as soon as we discover you” was the tone from Xi. Recently, official Chinese media revealed more in the way of how 2015 will see an even harsher crackdown on corruption.
The topic of cracking down on corrupt officials continue to attract an interested audience overseas. Chinese Central Television’s WeChat account reports five key pointers to watch:
- Enactment of stricter rules: whilst there will still be a “storm of corrupt people to go after”, we’ll see more in the way of new rules being enacted. This includes more stringent regulations in Chinese Criminal Law.
- Public body layout reforms: organisation-wise, it has now been easier to catch the corrupt, with anti-corruption agencies upgraded in the public body layout system, and discipline inspection offices have seen an increase in number without seeing a number in how many officials there were overall.
- ”Touring inspectors” to show more mature teeth: previous, especially during the Hu Jintao era, rules were made, but enforcement was lax at the lower levels. Enter the Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan era: to ensure rules are obeyed and discipline taken seriously, the central authorities’ “touring inspectors” have been all over the country, scaring those who were previously used to a web of “solid (but corrupt) local connections”.
- More cases as the provincial and ministerial levels will come to the courts: No-one really knows when the next Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai or Ling Jihua cases will suddenly “explode”, but what is taken for sure is that 2015 will see more corrupt officials and erstwhile mandarins at the provincial and ministerial levels taken to the courts.
- Cracking down on overseas corruption: It used to be that if you became corrupt in China, you fled overseas — favourites were changing passports and even names. No longer. There will be less and less places for corrupt officials to flee to, especially overseas, as China-Asia-Pacific collaboration in this field forces corrupt officials back to China.
Support for Xi Jinping’s new administration has consistently been high, and the downfall of “big tigers”, Zhou Yongkang included, means Xi has been able to make very visible inroads in these. A Wikipedia list review of corrupt officials fallen tells the tale: in the first few years under Hu Jintao, corrupt officials taken from power were more in the single digits; under Xi Jinping, annual figures of corrupt officials caught were often in the two, even three digits. Wang Qishan’s tough approaches have also worked in favour of cleansing out a China which was formerly the “base” of corrupt, incompetent officials. Whilst the task is far from over, visible progress has been made.