Corruption in China is a way of life that is so deeply rooted that it would take a revolution to rid the country of it, but the government of Xi Jinping is cracking the whip, determined to bring this cancer to an end, if current news headlines in the country are to be believed. Former Security Chief Zhou Yongkang has become the first victim of Premier Xi Jiping’s crusade. Yong Kang joins others like Jiang Jiemin head of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The Premier, it seems, is finally delivering on the promise that he made to clean up China when he took the mantle from former Premier Hu Jin Tao.
Yongkang, who retired in 2012, is accused of a myriad of malpractice offences while in office. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the anti-corruption watchdog, has confirmed that the once-powerful security chief is being accused of having abused his office to enrich himself, as well as his family. The speculation over his fate that began in 2013 is finally over.
The last investigation of equally highly placed officials in the China Communist Party (CCP) took place in 1949 with the likes of Deng Xiao Ping and others. Understandably the current investigation is raising temperatures among other Senior officials. This scrutiny has sent shivers down the spine of senior party officials who thought that they were untouchables by virtue of their positions.
The hope that their high positions protected the big fish, even when old age cut short their days in office, have now been dashed. The question on everybody’s mind is who will be next. This is definitely causing many sleepless nights for corrupt officials who fear that they will be the next.
Some see this bid to sever Yonkang, who is no longer a comrade, as a clear indication and warning that Premier Xi will deal with the all corrupt officials, regardless of their status. In other words there will be no sacred cows.
The Laobaixing have applauded Premier Xi Jinping’s gesture and hope that it will help crack the system of corruption among the provincial officials. The fact that Yong Kang has fallen is a very clear warning to all that there will be no hesitation to swat them like houseflies, a common Chinese analogy for putting down corruption.
Given that one of the most powerful men in China, Yongkang, has been declared a public enemy, the ax will definitely fall on his son Zhou Bin. It is a common practice in China to go for the whole family, which explains why his wife and part of his extended family are behind bars. The Premier has given the green light for the whole family to be prosecuted, and there is now no doubt that the dynasty of Yong Kang has been put to rest.
Zhou Bin, riding on his father’s unfettered powers, built huge and successful businesses in both entertainment and oil industries. He and his wife, 43-year-old Huang, who is Chinese-American, are currently in detention as further allegations into corruption are being verified.
However even as the all eyes are turned on Zhou. There is a certain unease as to whether the brooms sweeping aside the corruption across Beijing will be long enough to reach under the beds of far off provinces where the CCP officials and their families are lords of impunity.
There are those who, despite the current exercise, remain cautiously optimistic. On the one on hand it is clear that Xi Jinping is keen on whipping reforms into place, yet the crackdown on dissidents continues unfettered. There is also the issue of Internet censorship, otherwise referred to as “The Great Wall of China.” It seems that the Chinese will have to tarry a bit more for their democratic space to free up.
By Caroline Wanjiru