Politics Permeates Anti-Corruption Drive in China

The New York Times writes about several recent high-profile corruption cases in China:

Chinese authorities say the arrests are part of the Communist Party’s latest anticorruption campaign — and they include the arrest last month of four employees of the British-Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, on bribery charges.

But analysts say that prominent corruption cases in China are often the outgrowth of power struggles within the Communist Party, with competing factions using the “war on corruption” as a tool to eliminate or weaken rivals and their corporate supporters.

In the case of Mr. Huang, the electronics billionaire, for example, state-run media say a number of other high-ranking officials with longstanding ties to him have also been dismissed and arrested in what looks to be a Communist Party power shuffle.

China does not have an independent police or judicial system; party leaders order investigations. “It’s a very politicized process,” says Minxin Pei, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California and author of numerous studies on corruption in China. “If your patrons do not protect you, you’re toast.” This may help explain one of the enduring contradictions of China’s political and economic system: the government regularly publicizes an astounding number of corruption cases, yet little progress seems to be made in uprooting corruption.

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