Graft Blitz May Expose Something Worse: Factions

Amid the Xi administration’s anti-graft drive, Party members were recently warned that cliques within the CCP will “absolutely not be tolerated,” and propaganda authorities ordered that message to be sounded widely. In recent days, China’s state media has issued more commentary on the sin of factionalism. The New York Times’ Chris Buckley reports on the message’s reinforcement in official media, tracing the roots of anti-factionalsim back through Chinese history:

“Behind some of the ‘big tigers’ who have fallen in recent years, there have often been gangs of officials with countless collusive interests,” said a commentary issued by Xinhua, the state news agency, over the weekend. “They have formed into ‘gangs’ and ‘,’ either openly or hidden, loosely or tightly knit.”

[…] A commentary on Monday in People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper, amplified the theme that and factionalism were conjoined evils.

“Some cliques of officials are in essence parasitic relationships of transferring interests, and turning public power into private goods,” the commentary said. “The violations of laws and discipline are shocking, and the repercussions threaten to bring ruin to the country and its people.”

[…] Mr. Xi comes from a long line of Chinese leaders who see corruption as a symptom not only of personal greed, but also of dangerous disunity. The People’s Daily commentary, which was written by a propaganda official, Qin Qiang, warned that the collapse of Chinese dynasties was often accompanied by the spread of self-serving bureaucratic factions.

“The toxic abuses of clique culture have not been eradicated,” it said. [Source]

This comes after the highest hitting probes and punishments yet to be doled out in the ongoing anti-corruption campaign: the arrest and Party expulsion of retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, and the announcement of an official investigation into former top Hu Jintao aide Ling Jihua. Coverage from the South China Morning Post’s Li Jing looks at how these two officials and fellow fallen “tigers” represent three major intra-Party cliques:

In an article carried on its affiliated news portal over the weekend, Xinhua named several fallen senior officials as connected to the so-called Shanxi Gang, Secretary Gang and Petroleum Gang.

[…] The […] article said members of the Secretary Gang included several top aides and former personal secretaries of Zhou, including former Sichuan vice-governor Guo Yongxiang, former chairman of the Sichuan political advisory committee Li Chongxi, and former deputy governor of Hainan province Ji Wenlin.

The Petroleum Gang included Jiang Jiemin, another aide to Zhou and a former chairman of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, as well as his subordinates, while Ling was a member of the Shanxi Gang, Xinhua said.

[…] But Xinhua was not referencing other factions commonly held to exist, such as the “princeling gang”, “Shanghai gang” and “Youth League gang”, which were influential behind the scene, [Renmin University’s Zhang Ming] said. [Source]