Anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping

An unprecedented anti-corruption campaign began after the conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in Beijing in November 2012.
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A far-reaching campaign against corruption began in China following the conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012. The campaign, carried out under the aegis of Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (paramount leader), was the largest organized anti-graft effort in the history of Communist rule in China.

Upon taking office, Xi vowed to crack down on "tigers and flies", that is, high-level officials and local civil servants alike. Most of the officials investigated were removed from office and faced accusations of bribery and abuse of power, although the range of alleged abuses varied widely. As of 2016, the campaign has 'netted' over 120 high-ranking officials, including about a dozen high-ranking military officers, several senior executives of state-owned companies, and five national leaders.[1][2] (both sources inaccurate/incomplete) More than 100,000 people have been indicted for corruption.[3] The campaign is part of a much wider drive to clean up malfeasance within party ranks and shore up party unity. It has become an emblematic feature of Xi Jinping's political brand.

Executed largely under the direction of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and its Secretary from 2012 to 2017 Wang Qishan along with corresponding military and judicial organs, the campaign was notable in implicating both incumbent and former national-level leaders, including former Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) member Zhou Yongkang and former military leaders Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Such investigations broke the unspoken rule regarding 'PSC criminal immunity' (Chinese: 刑不上常委) that has been the norm since the end of the Cultural Revolution.[4]

Campaign oversight

Wang Qishan, head of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's anti-graft agency

The agency directly charged with overseeing the campaign is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which, at the time of the campaign, was headed by Secretary Wang Qishan, a politician known for his work in the financial sector and one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party. Wang was in charge of the day-to-day execution of the campaign. The CCDI's official mandate is to enforce party discipline, combat malfeasance, and punish party members for committing offenses. The CCDI is an internal agency of the party and therefore does not have judicial authority. In general, the CCDI investigates officials and, when necessary, forwards evidence gathered to judicial organs, such as the Supreme People's Procuratorate (in charge of investigation and prosecution), who proceeds to charge the accused with criminal wrongdoing and move the case to trial.[5]

While the CCDI formally reports into the Party Congress, nominally the highest representative body of the party which gathers once every five years, and is intended to be an 'independent' agency from a constitutional standpoint, in practice ultimate oversight of the agency falls under the purview of Xi Jinping by virtue of holding the office of General Secretary (i.e., de facto leader).[6] Xi, who is also President, also directs anti-graft efforts of the military through his holding the office of Chairman of the Central Military Commission (i.e., commander-in-chief). The majority of reporting on the campaign by media sources have highlighted Xi Jinping's direct involvement in managing the campaign, which has become a central hallmark of his term in office. However, formal disciplinary measures meted out to high-ranking officials such as former Politburo members must undergo ratification by the sitting Politburo.[7]

Coordination of anti-corruption efforts in the provinces and state-owned enterprises have been carried out by "central inspection teams" (中央巡视组), which reports to the Central Leading Group for Inspection Work, which like the CCDI is also led by Wang Qishan. The inspection teams are typically 'stationed' for a few months at the organization they were tasked with overseeing, and are in charge of thorough audits into the conduct of officials and organizational practices. The inspection teams sends the results of the audits to the CCDI to enact formal investigative procedures such as Shuanggui (the practice of detaining individual party members for investigation).[8]

The proposed constitutional changes published on February 25 envision the creation of a new anti-graft state agency that merges the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and various anti-corruption government departments.[9] The thus formed National Supervisory Commission will be the highest supervisory body in the country, and will be a cabinet-level organization outranking courts and the office of the prosecutor.[10]