The unseemly “virtue” of corruption – Politics of anticorruption in China
In this talk, I will trace the process of Xi Jinping’s campaign in 2012-2017 and explain how an anticorruption effort has been transformed into an exercise of power-consolidation for his office. My analysis leads to the following conclusions. First, the power-consolidation process has benefited from a combination of an ideological campaign and a disciplinary campaign, which were not only synchronized but also feed into one another to achieve a shared goal. Second, the campaign became politicized around midterm and intensified afterwards. The pace of progress of the campaign coincided with Xi Jinping’s advancement of power. Third, the most significant outcome of Xi Jinping’s campaign is not the numbers of disciplined corrupt officials but the paradigm-change in the disciplinary regime of the Chinese Communist Party (the Party): first, the reversal of the depoliticization process of the Party’s disciplinary regime; second, the retention of temporarily mobilized anticorruption resources; and third the simplification of evidence production procedure. The combined result is a considerable expansion of the investigative capacities of the anticorruption agency led by the Party and a significant increase of Xi Jinping’s leverage to impose political loyalty and compliance upon Party officials in the future.
Ling Li teaches Chinese politics and law as a lecturer at the Department of East Asian Studies of the University of Vienna, where she also served as a visiting professor during 2015-2016. Prior to coming to Vienna, she was a senior research fellow at the US-Asia Law Institute of New York University School of Law during 2010-2015. She holds a doctoral degree from Leiden University Law School. Her research is pivoted on the question of how the Chinese Communist Party regulates itself and its relations with state institutions under a single-party political system. Her research has been introduced and often quoted by international media, such as, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Review of Books and Sydney Morning Herald. All her previous publications can be downloaded free here.