Bloomberg News

Xi Warns of Regime’s Demise Unless China Tackles Graft

November 19, 2012

Chinese Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping

General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xi Jinping, front, delivers a speech as, left to right, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Wang Qishan standing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 15, 2012. Photographer: Feng Li/Getty Images

Xi Jinping, the new head of China’s ruling Communist Party, told his fellow leaders that unless they address corruption social unrest may rise and it could lead to the demise of the party.

“The preponderance of facts tell us that the more severe the corruption problem becomes, it will ultimately lead the party and the nation to perish!” Xi told members of the ruling Politburo on Nov. 17 in remarks published yesterday in the People’s Daily, the party newspaper. “We must be vigilant!”

Xi’s comments came two days after he took over leadership of the 82-million member party from Hu Jintao, who is also expected to turn over the state presidency to Xi in March. The Communist Party was rocked by the biggest political scandal in a generation this year with the ouster of Bo Xilai from the Politburo in April and the conviction in August of his wife for the murder of a British businessman.

Xi told a study group of the ruling Politburo that the collapse of some regimes around the world in recent years was linked to rising corruption, saying that “first the body rots, then the worms grow,” according to the remarks published in the People’s Daily. Xi also said that all cadres must restrain their relatives, show self restraint, never abuse their power and never enjoy special privileges.

“Everyone in violation of party discipline must be punished,” Xi said. “We can’t be soft.”

Corruption Endangers Party

The phrase Xi used to warn about corruption endangering the party was similar to that used by Hu in a Nov. 8 speech, during which he told delegates to the 18th Communist Party Congress that “if we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the Party, and even cause the collapse of the Party and the fall of the state.”

The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection handled 643,759 cases in the period between Nov. 2007 and June this year, with 668,429 people punished, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the commission.

In the same period, the committee investigated 81,391 cases of business graft, involving monetary amounts exceeding 22.2 billion yuan, according to a report from the Commission distributed by Xinhua over the government website.

“Our efforts to sieve out senior offenders such as Bo Xilai, Liu Zhijun, Xu Zongheng show the Party’s determination to crack down on corruption,” the Commission said.

Bo was former Party chief of Chongqing municipality and politburo member. Liu was China’s rail minister before a corruption investigation led to his downfall. Former Shenzhen mayor Xu stood trial in April for taking bribes of 33.2 million yuan, Xinhua reported on April 21.

Anti-Corruption Campaign

Even as China’s anti-corruption campaign made some progress over the last five years, graft became more complicated and harder to spot, Xinhua said yesterday, citing the Party’s discipline committee.

Some Chinese officials leveraged their positions to reap illegal gains for their spouses, children, relatives, and people who worked with them, Xinhua said, citing a report from the discipline commission. Some officials broke the law and violated Party rules, it said.

The Commission pledged to strengthened its current system of preventing and tackling corruption, including cracking down on extravagant spending on official receptions, travel, and vehicles, and will closely monitor the selection and promotion of officials, the report said.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michael Forsythe in Beijing at mforsythe@bloomberg.net; Liza Lin in Shanghai at llin15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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