Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations writes that new leader Xi Jinping “has one over-riding political mandate: clean up corruption or clear out.” From urging a no-nonsense approach to government, to accepting the role of the Internet in helping to clean up Chinese society, Economy suggests how Xi’s approach may differ from his predecessors:
In a 2000 interview, Xi Jinping stressed his belief that a new leader should set his own agenda but also build upon the work of his predecessors. Xi is pushing forward on an anti-corruption platform and in so doing is following a long and storied tradition in Chinese history. Mao Zedong launched the country’s first anti-corruption campaign in 1951, just two years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and such campaigns have been a staple of every Chinese leadership since. In the past five years alone, over six hundred thousand Party officials have been investigated for “corruption-related activities.” The challenge here is two-fold: the number that should be investigated is probably closer to six million or even sixty million; and the traditional method of attack—simply plucking out corrupt officials one by one from on high—is woefully inadequate to the task at hand. Fortunately, Xi and his corruption czar Wang Qishan appear to have some other tricks up their sleeves.
Xi Jinping’s domestic political agenda over the next year might best be summed up by simple, clean men in a simple, clean government. Xi wants his officials to be corruption-free, servants of the public good, and modest. Getting there won’t be easy, but he has made his intentions clear.
The message sent by advisers to new Politburo Standing Committee member and anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, according to The Economist, is that the government should force officials to come clean about their
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