By: Jianli Yang – June 18, 2021

China’s anti-corruption campaign continues in full swing as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prepares to celebrate a hundred years of its founding on July 1. The January death sentence imposed on Lai Xiaomin, former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management, for accepting bribes worth $279 million USD shook the Chinese bureaucracy, the latest corruption conviction among government and party officials. His execution reportedly has led to confessions from others for accepting bribes, but it was an unusual sentence for bribery and other financial crimes.

Thus, two contradictory strands are evident in China today — one of celebration and the other, retribution. As China’s global geopolitical prominence grows, its authoritarian tendencies are intensifying domestically. The party’s focus on survival is natural because, since its founding and the creation of the People’s Republic, Beijing has always attempted to reinforce CCP primacy. Consequently, everything positive that has happened in China since 1949 is credited to the party. A 1950s-era propaganda song popularized the slogan, “Without the Communist Party, there would be no new China.” That song could be sung today with a twist: “Without the CCP and Xi Jinping, there would be no Chinese Dream.”

Nikkei Asia reports that, in January 2020, the disciplinary committee decreed that any official who “voluntarily surrendered” in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign “would be shown leniency” and those who did not and continued accepting bribes “would be dealt with harshly.” Lai Xiaomin evidently was held up as an example of one who did not cooperate. The newspaper tweeted in May, “The number of government officials involved in corruption cases who turned themselves in jumped by half in 2020 to 16,000.” Several reports of officials surrendering have appeared in state-controlled media, apparently to show that Xi’s party control extends down to the lowest levels ahead of the 2022 Party Congress, at which he hopes to begin an unprecedented third term… [Continue Reading]