Can Xi Jinping Really Fight Corruption?

With the detention of four activists in Beijing for publicly expressing support for official , The New York Times’ Andrew Jacobs reports that new president Xi Jinping’s push to curb corruption within the Communist Party may have limits:

Ma Gangquan, one of the lawyers, said the activists were dumbfounded by their treatment.

“Our leaders are the ones who came up with the ‘China Dream’ slogan, vowing to rule by law and to fight corruption,” said Mr. Ma, who represents Ma Xinli, 47, an employee in the logistics department of a bus company. “Their goal was simply to make his cause their own.”

Another lawyer, Ding Xikui, complained that the police bloodied the face of his client, Hou Xin, as they dragged her away.

Although it is unlikely that Mr. Xi and other top leaders were aware of the protest, rights advocates say the detentions, coupled with the recent harassment of other people fighting corruption, are a worrying sign that the leadership is determined to constrain any populist campaigning on an issue central to the president’s agenda.

A number of political activists have signed a petition in favor of the so-called “sunshine law,” according to Radio Free Asia, which spoke to the wife of one of the detained demonstrators:

“[The leadership], including , is always talking about having officials declare their , but they’re all talk and no action,” Zhu said.

“And now that we citizens have taken this action, the police crack down on us,” she said. “We didn’t do anything destructive or violent; we just wanted to speak out.”

Online transparency campaigner Sun Hanhui said a number of rights lawyers have offered to defend the activists.

“Some lawyers have already agreed to represent and defend the case this morning,” Sun, who works in a law firm, said on Tuesday. “They are putting together a legal team, and eventually they will announce it.”