In any of these cases, the question is not whether investigators will find corrupt officials, it is how far up or down or sideways in the bureaucracy will they go in making arrests. The party knows from the top on down that corruption is a chronic and thorough affliction of the one-party state, and has long assigned many authorities to the task of curing it.
But many of the highest-profile crackdowns, including former General Secretary Jiang Zemin’s against the Beijing party secretary in 1995, Chen Xitong, and current General Secretary Hu Jintao’s against Chen in Jiang’s power base of Shanghai, are viewed less as cleanup efforts than as factional maneuvers to undermine enemies and consolidate power.
The Chongqing crackdown was one of the most publicized in years. Many were shocked the local party chief was able to take on such entrenched corruption. People assumed, perhaps correctly, that Bo had some ulterior motive for moving on the Chongqing mafia: Maybe he was trying to impress Beijing so that he could move up in the party hierarchy; maybe he was uprooting a faction that rivaled or threatened his own. The notion that a leader in government simply would see wrong and try to right it, Robert F. Kennedy-style, exists in Camelot, not China.