Xi Jinping clique again wields anti-corruption tool to target political rivals

(Illustration: Craig Stephens/SCMP)

(TibetanReview.net, Sep06’20) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is again wielding the anti-corruption tool to purge his potential critics and opponents amid challenges on numerous fronts, both domestic and international, his leadership faces today in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over two dozen police and judicial officials had been investigated, with dozens more removed from their posts in August as part of his ongoing anti-corruption campaign, reported the Wall Street Journal Sep 5.

Though Xi does have to fight an election, he does, nevertheless, need to continue to run campaigns to stay in power and avoid a potential challenge for his leadership particularly in the wake of the mishandling of Wuhan virus outbreak, ravaging economy and rising tensions with the United States and India. This means purging anyone who could pose a serious threat to that power, the report noted.

Xi’s protégé Chen Yixin, the secretary-general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, had first called for the purge in July, saying it was time to ‘turn the blade of a knife inwards, cure the poison by scrapping it from the bones’ that must cleanse the country’s justice system of corrupt elements and purge officials who only paid lip service to the CCP. Millions of party cadres are said to be potentially at risk of being targeted.

The purge in the style of Mao’s “Yan’an Rectification Movement” was first announced by Chen Yixin on Jul 8 during a meeting of the Central Political and Legal Commission, a powerful policy-making body directly under the Communist Party’s Central Committee.

Thousands of Chinese Communists suspected to be critical of Mao Zedong were purged during Yan’an Rectification campaign carried out in 1942. The ones that could stay in the party were expelled, tortured and even killed.

Also, the report noted that last month, Wang Xiaohong, a close aide to Xi and the most Senior Vice Minister for Public Security, published a signed article about political discipline in the police force’s official newspaper. He was stated to have specifically warned that “two-faced people,” those who officially pretend to obey but secretly resist, will be thoroughly removed.

Wang’s article was said to have been shared widely by Xi’s rival factions, including by members of the Communist Youth League. The Youth League was thereby seen as sending a coded message to its members: “A purge is coming. Everyone, be careful.”

And then in mid-August, it was announced that Gong Daoan, Shanghai’s Vice Mayor and a top public security official, had been placed under investigation for serious disciplinary and law violations, but without any specific allegation. Gong is the third deputy ministerial-level public security official to fall from grace this year, the report noted.

The report noted that while proponents of the purges say they were based on the anti-corruption campaign, opponents have said China’s leadership was targeting political rivals to keep them from taking power away from him.

The report said Xi had made sweeping political crackdowns a key feature of his rule, eliminating his main political rivals. Ever since he became CCP General Secretary in 2012, he has overseen a massive anti-corruption drive with more than one million officials either disciplined or removed from their position. During his first five years in office, 1.34 million officials were brought down over corruption, the report noted, citing official data.

Shortly after becoming China’s President in 2013, Xi kicked off a political study campaign called “mass line educational practice activities” within the party, which led to the fierce “anti-corruption” campaign. It saw calls for banning luxury and attaching importance to frugality.

And before the party’s last National Congress, in 2017, senior military officers were arrested for corruption one after another; some ended up killing themselves. The campaign ensnared an influential politician who had been widely seen as the front-runner to one day succeed Xi as China’s top leader, the report said.

It said the new rectification campaign that started last month will continue till the time for the 20th Party Congress of the CCP to be held in 2022. If the party follows precedent, Xi would step down as the Party General Secretary to be replaced by somebody else. But there is no party rule that mandates that he should step down. And Xi has already secured a tenure-for-life for the presidency when restrictions on the number of terms were removed during a session of the National People’s Congress in 2018.


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