Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The anti-corruption, pro-Xi juggernaut

Yet another kingpin going down in Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. (A factional enemy of Xi Jinping's, of course.)

This one is especially interesting, because he's the first major figure who's still active in the government. The others so far have all been minor officials, or else retired heavy-hitters. That Xi should go after a currently-active government official, signifies a major tipping-point in the anti-corruption campaign. If he's successful in taking this guy down, it's deuces wild for the whole lot of them.

Part of me thinks Xi Jinping should actually be thanking this guy, not taking him down. If this guy's son hadn't slammed his Ferrari into a restraining wall on one of Beijing's ring roads in the wee hours of the morning, Xi's goal of eradicating the influence of Hu and the other retiring leaders would have been essentially impossible to achieve. After that event two years ago, the entire Hu Jintao faction was massively embarrassed.

Nonetheless, as one commentator said in the NY Times (I think it was), Xi almost didn't have a choice but to go after this Mr. Ling. Having pushed his hand so far, if he stopped short of going after Ling, he'd have been seen as just another pretend reformer.

Some evidence is starting to emerge that Xi has run his course, and that the military in particular has lost its patience with his anticorruption campaign. Nonetheless, he's already worked the Chinese political system far better than I would have considered possible. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to hold out against the enemies he has created for himself, but so far he has been incredibly deft and crafty at taking out his rivals inside the Chinese system.


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