Tue, Jan 28, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Selective anticorruption in China

By Chen Pokong 陳破空

On the surface, there appears to have been a certain amount of picking and choosing going on in reports over the past two years by the foreign press or independent overseas organizations of scandals involving high-level members of the regime.

For example, nothing has been heard from former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), despite the common knowledge that, through two of his sons, the Jiang clan at the very least controls a significant amount of China Telecom.

Jiang’s exhortation during his term to herald the advantages of discretion — his “being quiet gets huge benefits” — was a catalyst for corruption within the party. Other senior members of the Jiang faction have been involved in scandals too, such as Wu Bangguo (吳邦國), Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), Li Changchun (李長春) and Zhou Yongkang (周永康) — the “New Gang of Four” — or the “all-new Gang of Four” of Zhang Dejiang (張德江), Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), Liu Yunshan (劉雲山) and Zhang Gaoli (張高麗).

Of these, Jia is widely believed to be corrupt, being heavily tainted by his association with Lai Changxing (賴昌星) and the latter’s multibillion dollar smuggling ring; Liu’s son Liu Lefei (劉樂飛) entered the billionaires’ club landing himself the job of chief executive officer for CITIC Private Equity Funds Management; and Zhou, as a former Chinese minister of Public Security, minister of Land and Resources, Sichuan Province party secretary and chief of China National Petroleum Corp, the parent company of PetroChina, is a sizeable tiger to bag indeed.

Clearly, it is not the foreign media or the overseas independent organizations that are being intentionally selective over who they write reports about. It is more likely that certain figures within the higher echelons of the CCP are being selective in what information they leak — information that will lead overseas journalists and investigators to the doorstep of the political rivals within the party and that will implicate these rivals in corruption. Naturally, the foreign media and overseas organizations will never reveal the sources of the leaks, as this is a basic professional code of conduct.

History has shown that the various factions within the CCP have favored this kind of “dawn raid” tactic when attacking their political foes. This selective anticorruption drive has fallen foul of party members taking advantage of selective leaks to get back at those who have gotten on their wrong side in the past. It is escalating brinkmanship, a game of chicken, a matter of seeing who will back down first. This all suggests that struggles within the halls of power in Beijing are becoming increasingly deadly leading to a classic dog-eat-dog situation. It seems that the endgame has begun and all that remains is to see who emerges victorious.

Chen Pokong is a Chinese democracy activist in the US.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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