“The essence of corruption is the abuse of power,” China’s President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping said at a meeting of the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on January 8. Eleven years after beginning his tenure with an anti-corruption campaign, he declared a victory in fighting corruption – but admitted to ongoing problems within the party, the finance industry, state-owned enterprises, universities, sports, tobacco, medicine, grain purchasing and sales and statistics.
China’s corruption busters were busy in 2023 and will likely remain so in 2024. From November 2022 to November 2023, the CCP subjected 161,000 of its members to criticism and education, and 113,000 to disciplinary and administrative measures. Defense Minister Li Shangfu came under investigation late 2023 for alleged procurement corruption, before disappearing from office, and other revelations also rocked the military. Two ex-chairmen of state-owned bank China Everbright were sanctioned for bribery, among other things.
In the run-up to the CCDI meeting, the need to reinvigorate discipline and find new ways to tackle corruption were extensively covered by party-state media. Recent revisions of CCP disciplinary regulations show how much the party distrusts its members. The CCP wants to stamp out departmental or local protectionism, establishing factions or creating patron-client relations, associating with political fraudsters, overstaying abroad without valid cause, and consuming content with “serious political problems.”
MERICS analysis: “Without some separation of powers to allow checks and balances by independent watchdogs, a one-party state like China essentially supervises itself to prevent systemic corruption,” says Alexander Davey, MERICS Analyst. “Xi’s anti-corruption efforts prioritize 'ensuring that the party never deteriorates' over a fair and transparent society.”
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