January 9, 2015, by Tony Hong
More ‘Tigers’ in President’s Sights.
By David O’Brien,
Assistant Professor, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham Ningbo.
The Communist Party of China faces threats from dangerous internal cliques who are ‘parasites’ harming both the country and the people, official state media reported this week.
Such strong condemnation is certainly striking and would seem to indicate that President Xi Jinping’s battle against corruption at the very top of the Party is far from over.
According to an editorial in the People’s Daily, “some cliques of officials are, in fact, parasitic relationships for the conveying of benefits”.
Xinhua went even further, identifying three of the cliques. It said, “the relationships with groups of officials in local governments and among business directors [had] set up many factions, known by such names as “oil clique”, “secretary clique” or “Shanxi clique”.
The cliques have been identified as part of Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption which has seen some of the very highest officials from the previous administration of Hu Jintao investigated.
According to an article in the China Daily, “the condemnation of cliques and factions could be considered the latest warning for other officials to avoid the misdeeds of Zhou Yongkang, the country’s former security chief; Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission; and Ling Jihua, former minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, as well as other corrupt senior officials.
Zhou Yonkang, until recently one of the most powerful men in China, is the highest ranking official to be expelled from the Communist Party since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Under the previous administration he was in charge of China’s internal security forces and also had close ties to the oil sector.
“Zhou was reported to have formed several networks within the fields he was in charge of, including central and local governments, law enforcement organs and State-owned enterprises, such as China National Petroleum Corp, where a number of corrupt officials investigated for involvement in Zhou’s case have been dubbed the “oil clique””, the Xinhua report said.
He was also close to shamed former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai who was sentenced to life in prison in August 2013 for accepting bribes and abuse of power.
Ling Jihua was one of former President Hu Jintao’s closest advisors and formerly Director of the General Office of the Communist Party.
In March 2012 his son Ling Gu was killed when his Ferrari was involved in a high-speed crash in Beijing. There was much speculation at the time that his son was accompanied by two ‘scantily clad’ young women with many interpreting Ling’s subsequent move to the United Work Department as a demotion because of the scandal.
According to Xinhua he had established a secretive network known as the “Shanxi clique” with other high-ranking officials and business managers from his home province of Shanxi.
Some media reported that former President Xi sought the blessing of former President Hu before launching the probe into Ling.
Xu Caihou, formerly vice-chair of China’s top military body and member of the Politburo, was expelled from the Party in June and stands accused of accepting huge bribes in exchange for promotions.
All indications now are that Xi’s sweeping campaign is set to continue, with more top current and former officials possibly being investigated.
An end of year meeting of the Politburo presided over by President Xi, promised a “high-voltage” crackdown on corruption and “undesirable work practices”.
“Despite a certain amount of control over undesirable work styles and corruption, the entire Party should keep its cool in the still arduous and complicated anti-graft fight,” said a statement released after the meeting.
“Discipline should be put in a more prominent position so as to strengthen restraints on Party officials and members through strict and clear rules.”
“Organizing cliques within the Party to run personal businesses is absolutely not tolerated,” the statement concluded.