Since he began his anti-corruption campaign, President Xi Jinping has promised to go after both “tigers and flies”, big shots and low-level officials. He’s certainly following through on that promise. The New York Times reports on two tigers recently hit by Xi’s crackdown:
The officials included Ai Baojun, 55, a vice mayor of Shanghai who oversaw a prominent economic zone, and Lu Xiwen, 60, a senior Communist Party official in Beijing.
Mr. Ai, a former steel executive, led an experimental free-trade zone in Shanghai that Chinese leaders, including Prime Minister Li Keqiang, had praised for its efforts to promote investment. Mr. Ai also helped oversee several high-profile projects, including the construction of a Disney resort expected to open next year.
Ms. Lu, a deputy party secretary, was head of the Communist Party school in Beijing for training and indoctrinating government officials.
The Chinese authorities did not detail the charges against Mr. Ai and Ms. Lu, saying only that they were being investigated for “serious breaches of discipline.”
The purge is having a very big effect on China. It isn’t just political officials getting charged: Last week, three top business executives were arrested on corruption charges and the Party expelled a top newspaper editor from its ranks.
Many, if not most, of these targeted officials are actually corrupt. But, in China as in many other places, one could charge lots of people with corruption. Xi isn’t just going after the most corrupt people he can find; he’s also using the anti-corruption campaign to consolidate power. The result is that Chinese businessmen, journalists, and politicians who are not confident that they’re in Xi’s good graces are living in at least vague fear of Party expulsion or arrest. And that’s precisely the kind of atmosphere Xi wants.