China: Xi calls corruption a ‘tumour’, warns top Communist leaders to be clean

Updated on Jun 19, 2022 03:56 AM IST

Xi urged improvement in the fight against corruption to guarantee that officials do not have the ‘audacity, opportunity, or desire to engage in corruption’

Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds at a meeting commending role models of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on April 8, 2022. (REUTERS/FILE)
Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds at a meeting commending role models of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on April 8, 2022. (REUTERS/FILE)
BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

BEIJING: President Xi Jinping has said corruption in China remains severe and complicated, calling it a “tumour” and in a rare warning has also told the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) top leaders to “exercise stricter self-discipline”.

Xi urged improvement in the fight against corruption to guarantee that officials do not have the “audacity, opportunity, or desire to engage in corruption”.

Xi demanded a full victory in the anti-corruption campaign on Friday while addressing a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on improving anti-corruption capability.

“The fight against corruption is a major political struggle that the party cannot afford to lose and should never lose because it concerns the people,” Xi said, according to state-controlled media.

In a rare warning to senior officials, Xi said cadres in higher positions and with greater power must exercise stricter self-discipline.

Xi said members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee - two of the top decision-making CPC bodies - “in particular must hold themselves to the highest standards of self-discipline, and take the lead among all party members in following the party’s dos and don’ts”.

The Chinese president launched an anti-corruption campaign soon after he became CPC general secretary in 2012.

The campaign has gone on to become one of his signature domestic policies but critics have said that the anti-graft crackdown has been used as a pretext to purge Xi’s opponents and to consolidate power.

More than one million officials have been jailed or arrested in the crackdown which began soon after he took over in 2012.

Xi described the anti-corruption fight as one that is extremely complex and arduous, saying that there is “no room” for making any compromise. He called on party cadres to be courageous to face the problems squarely and muster the resolve to “wield the knife” and “cut off all tumours”.

He emphasised maintaining “zero-toleration” and eliminating sectoral and systematic corruption which pose higher risks to effectively defuse relevant economic and social risks.

Xi’s campaign against corruption is likely to intensify this year with the twice-in-a-decade CPC leadership change – scheduled for the second half of 2022 - where the Chinese president is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.

“Indeed, the “shock and awe” phase in Xi’s first term has yielded to a second phase: formalising the institutional structure of the Central Commission on Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The agency now has a National Supervisory Commission (NSC) and 47 permanent branches across all 139 central state and Party organisations,” wrote Ruihan Huang and Joshua Henderson for MacroPolo, the US-based Paulson Institute’s think tank, in May.

“Since the 19th Central Committee (CC), the number of cases at or below the county level rose nearly 20% from 523,000 in 2017 to 624,000 in 2021. It’s no coincidence that since 2018, Xi has urged CDI to shift its focus down to the local level because he considers grassroots corruption a threat to “social stability and the party’s legitimacy”.

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