Hard Graft

By scaling to extreme heights of icy cyncism, Zachary Keck situates Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign within a framework of vertiginous institutional complexity. Following reports that ex-leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have expressed warnings about the campaign’s potential excesses, he notes:

Jiang and Hu’s reported intervention underscores the delicate nature of anti-graft campaigns within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). On the one hand, anti-corruption campaigns are a time-honored tradition in the PRC and essential for each new leader to consolidate his power by purging adversaries and promoting allies. Xi likely sees the anti-corruption campaign as particularly useful for overcoming intra-Party resistance to China’s economic rebalance, which will inevitably disproportionally harm the interests of Party members.

At the same time, corruption is the lifeblood that attracts Chinese to the CCP in an era when ideology is no longer relevant. If CCP members are not allowed to personally benefit from their Party membership, it’s unclear exactly what would hold the Party together. Carrying an anti-corruption campaign too far also carries the risk of causing the Chinese masses to lose faith in the CCP and current system of government.

(The internal links, both to previous Keck articles, are well-worth following.)

It’s surely beyond the point where anyone can deny the seriousness of this campaign, whatever doubts remain about its ultimate motives and prospects. So many aspects of Chinese development are entangled with its outcome, it is scarcely possible to follow it too closely.

If Chinese Communist Party is heading, however slowly, in the direction of Singapore’s PAP, the consequences for the country can only be positive. Far more chaotic possibilities are, of course, very easily imaginable.

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