China’s Game of Thrones

Since the beginning of this year, high-level corruption in the Chinese system has been the global glare of publicity – an uncommon occurrence due to the secretive lives of China’s top brass. In his latest piece for Foreign Policy, Isaac Stone Fish profiles four Chinese leaders who illustrate “just how corrupt the system has become”– Zhou Yongkang, Wen Jiabao, Yu Zhengsheng, and Li Peng:

Chinese leaders enjoy a level of privacy unheard of in the West; the often vast business and political dealings of their families are shrouded in mystery by design. Only when Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai fell from grace in March did he expose himself to scrutiny from the outside world, illuminating the web of connections that bound him and his family to global business and political interests.

[…]In recent years, only the Bo clan has had its affairs ingloriously paraded in front of the international media — the  business ties of top leaders like President Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping remain mostly unknown. But here are four senior Chinese leaders whose web of connections have already been probed, and whose full exposure would most increase the outside world’s understanding of how the system works. […]

In a post for China Realtime Report, Stanley Lubman explains how internal corruption is dealt with in China. As can be seen by Liu Zhijun’s recent expulsion from the CCP, and by the ongoing investigation of Bo Xilaiparty members are subject to their own separate legal system:

There are two parallel systems in China to punish criminal conduct, one for Communist Party members and the other, the formal criminal process. When a party member is suspected of a crime, it is the party’s own investigation that comes first.

[…]In theory, CCP members who commit crimes will be turned over to the procuracy or police and the courts for criminal prosecution after initially being punished internally by the party’s own Commissions for Discipline Inspection (CDI). In practice, this happens in only a small minority of cases, and Party officials have the final say over the courts’ dispositions of those cases – a stark illustration of the Party’s influence over the criminal justice system.

[…]China’s leadership has consistently proclaimed that Chinese law must have “Chinese characteristics,” but that is a contradiction: Legal institutions remain subject to party control despite the ideal of the rule of law that is stated in the Chinese constitution.


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