The Business Times

China's anti-corruption drive looks sincere

Published Tue, Aug 5, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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THE anti-corruption drive launched by China's leader Xi Jinping moved into high gear last week with the stunning revelation that China's one-time security tsar and a former member of the Standing Committee of China's Politburo Zhou Yongkang is under investigation for "serious disciplinary violations". Not since the prosecution in 1981 of the Gang of Four - which included Mao Zedong's widow, Jiang Qing - has there been an investigation of China's officialdom that has reached so high into China's political hierarchy.

The opaqueness of China's system and a long history of political purges has prompted speculation that the investigation into Mr Zhou - a one-time close associate of another high-profile political figure Bo Xilai, who has been jailed for corruption - is yet another politically motivated exercise to root out opponents of China's ruling clique. But such cynicism seems misplaced. For one thing, China's anti-corruption drive, which has been in effect since 2012, has been too broad based to be characterised as targeted at just political enemies. More than 60,000 officials have been investigated including scores of senior-ranking party members. Perks enjoyed by Chinese officials across the board such as generous entertainment and travel allowances have been slashed.

Public opinion in China - at least, that which can be discerned through online and social media channels - has also been vociferous about the scourge of corruption, the pervasiveness of which is an open secret throughout the country. Any government would be duty-bound to respond and that this is happening should be no surprise.

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