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Xi Jinping’s fight against Corruption

We in the West generally are cynical about corruption. We think it’s a natural product of Capitalism, of profit motive, and part of human nature. Yet the scale revealed of hundreds of millions of dollars involved does shock us. We can’t just excuse them as cavalier as Deng’s saying somebody has get to rich first. When Xi said that fight against corruption is life and death fight for the soul of communist party, he’s not exaggerating. For if the generals of PLA are selling promotions for profit, then the ripple effect can’t be understated. Not only it will affect the morale of honest officers, but those who paid the bribes will generally be corrupt also. When money controls the gun and not the party, then the party will really be in danger.

When I visited China 2 years ago, there were a general dissatisfaction about corruption. People maybe richer, yet they felt nostalgic about the time of Mao, they don’t have to worry about the mortgage for housing when rents were a few yuans per month. Despite what the West said about Cultural Revolution and Mao, most people do have warm feelings for Mao and yearn for honest officials. The recent moves on demoting naked officials, fight against waste, and transparency on budgets are quite popular. Two recent news stories caught my attention and illustrate the drain of money out of China due to corruption. One is the sale notice of the Villa in France belonging to the wife of Bo Xilai, China is trying to recover the money under the tangled web of ownership of the villa. The other is the downfall of Ling Jihua, former director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. He is the father of rumored Ferrari crash victim a few years back in Beijing that derailed his career. I understand there was an attempted cover up of the crash, the police changed the name of the victim, the 2 Tibetan girls injured in the crash, 1 died later, their families were paid off, and the father didn’t even attend his son’s funeral. Yet to no avail he’s now under investigation for serious disciplinary violations.

For those who feel that is irrelevant to their lives I would disagree. The fight against corruption now seriously impacted Macau, the jewel of casinos in Asia, their revenues are down. One of the major player there is Las Vegas Sand, majority owner being family of Sheldon Adelson, a major contributors in Republican politics in U.S.. The hit taking by Las Vegas Sand, on the year when stock markets were way up is about 1/3. I think Mr. Adelson has $10 billion fewer to affect U.S. politics where money is speech.

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  1. Charles Liu
    December 23rd, 2014 at 12:04 | #1

    There have been speculation that the anti-corruption move in reality is the same old power grab, house keeping move. Xi needs his people in position and what better way to vacate those posts if people don’t play ball?

  2. raffiaflower
    December 25th, 2014 at 09:46 | #2

    Deng Xiaoping overcame conservative fears about the opening in 1978 with the re-assurance that, when the windows are opened, a few flies will come in.
    Thirty years on, the flies have multiplied to a huge swarm feasting on the banquet that China’s economic reforms have wrought.
    To paraphrase another famous Deng saying, it does not matter whether the cat is black or white; in this case, it doesn’t matter which faction of the party that the flies belong to. They have to be swatted, without any distinction.
    The vested interests in China’s one-party state are far too entrenched, for Xi Jinping to use anti-corruption crusade as a fig leaf to secure his unchallenged leadership, without risking an eventual backlash, imo.
    There might eventually be cases where some of Xi’s loyalists use the campaign to settle vendettas against enemies. But China is a one-party state, and unrest within the party itself filters into the society and affects the stability. China can’t afford that, and Xi is too smart.

  3. December 26th, 2014 at 11:04 | #3

    The PLA is organized into a very rigid four department system where cross-promotion is rare, a very distinct feature. The Defence Ministry is organized into four department:

    The Chief of Staff Department is where the combat command officers are promoted, for example to become a battalion, regiment, division commander, one need to go through this department.

    The Political Department is where the battalion, regiment, division commissar get selected.

    The Armament Department is responsible for developing new weapon and equipment. It works from the input of C of C department. Unlike the rest of the world, all PLA arms factories are state owned and there is no way bribe or influence can affect purchase decision.

    The Logistic Department is where all the scandals of the PLA emerged. This department is dubbed the “rich positions” and handles all the land rezoning and dealing with civilian contractors. I actually feel that this organization is superior to the western model. A retired general from the west usually go into a defence or logistic related companies and use his influence to secure contract for his companies. A serving general also yield great influence in procurement decision.

    So in reality, a PLA general actually has no way to be corrupted unless he is in the Logistic Department. And the west consistently say that the PLA understate their defence spending. The major reason is that the PLA simply is more efficient in its management of fund. The PLA is a 2.3 million strong organization with an annual budget of only $132 Billion in 2013. By contrast Russia is 900,000 troops on a $68 Billion budget, UK is 190,000 troops on $57 Billion, France is 215,000 on $52 Billion, Japan 260,000 on $51 Billion, Indian is 1.3 million on $36 Billion.

    I use the figures from the International Institute for Strategic Studies World Military Balance.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

    Of course, a soldier’s salary and housing is just part of the cost but simply compare the number of aircraft, artillery, tanks, warships, satellite, missile and one could get a picture that shows the PLA as the leanest large military in the world. The PLA simply outnumbered all the other major militaries in those weapon count except the US military which has a budget of over $600 Billion.

    So if one want to compare the corruption level of any military I will simply compare how efficient the money is managed. For example from how much it takes to purchase a submarine, a tank to a round of ammunition, uniform and ration.

  4. Black Pheonix
    December 31st, 2014 at 11:17 | #4

    >One of the major player there is Las Vegas Sand, majority owner being family of Sheldon Adelson, a major contributors in Republican politics in U.S.. The hit taking by Las Vegas Sand, on the year when stock markets were way up is about 1/3. I think Mr. Adelson has $10 billion fewer to affect U.S. politics where money is speech.

    Adelson also lost a major lawsuit against a HK consultant, who sued Adelson for reneging payments for a consulting contract that the HK consultant did work for Adelson to set up a Macau Casino.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/las-vegas-sands-corp-lawsuit_n_3274252.html

    The lawsuit lasted 9 years, and the US jury awarded Richard Suen $70 million, but that’s small compared to the original damage claim of $328 million. (and Richard Suen had to jump through 9 years of loopholes, because his original victory in court was thrown on technicalities).

    * And some people in HK are complaining about mainland Chinese spending money in HK, to “spread influence” for the Communists.

    I supposed they rather be cheated by Americans and Brits? Than to take money from mainlanders?

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