Is Xi’s Anti-Corruption Campaign a Purge of Opposition?

The anti-corruption campaign that Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2012 has become a pillar of his presidency. As of 2016, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had arrested or convicted more than 100 high-ranking officials. More than 100,000 others had been indicted for corruption.

Xi had pledged to set his net across “tigers and flies,” or both high-and-low ranking officials who enriched themselves and their families through illegal means. And while the campaign is largely supported by ordinary Chinese, it may be starting to look less than noble.

Many suspect this crackdown is as much a reforming of the party as it is a crusade against Xi’s enemies.

To back this claim, critics point to the arrests of Politburo member Zhou Yongkang, and former minister of commerce Bo Xilai – both of whom were thought to challenge Xi’s ascension.

An even more high-profile example is the arrest of Guo Wengui, a real estate billionaire who has fled China and is under a “red alert” policy, requiring Interpol to turn him over to Chinese authorities. The former real estate billionaire and member of President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort has gained a large media following being interviewed for Chinese-language websites in the U.S. and even the Voice of America. The latter interview was cut short raising speculation that Beijing forced VOA to stop – a claim the company denies. However, Guo has pledged throughout cyberspace to unmask corruption at the highest levels of the Communist Party.

Guo claims relatives of He Guoqiang, a former member of the Politboro Standing Committee, used their influence to rip him out of a business deal. While he has offered no hard evidence, research by Chinese and Western sources points to ties between He’s family and various companies that may have benefited from such an incident.

Nonetheless, Xi Jinping has a lot to clear up as he looks toward a successful 19th Congress of the CCP, which is expected to take place later this year.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.