More than 210,000 Chinese officials have been punished on charges of corruption in the first half of 2017.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Chinese corruption watchdog, said that anti-corruption agencies received 1.31 million complaints in 2017.
The watchdog also announced that former assistant chairman of China's securities regulator, Zhang Yujun, will be prosecuted for corruption.
The CCDI is the highest internal-control institution of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It was formed in 1978 and is in-charge of anti-corruption policies within the party. Given that most officials in the government are CPC members, it has become the top anti-corruption watchdog in the country.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping has made tackling corruption one of his main governing agendas. In 2016, the government announced that in the span of three years, one million officials had been punished for corrupt practices. Those caught in the past range from low ranking officials to top brass.
Critics have often cited that the anti-corruption drive is politically motivated. They believe that the Party along with the President, uses this as a tool to get sideline rivals. The President has denied these charges. Those held guilty of corruption are generally either accused of taking bribes or for misuse of their power.
During the recent crackdown, a senior official, Sun Zhengcai was abruptly removed from office. He had been in contention for a promotion within the party and was seen as a potential future premier. He is currently under investigation by the CCDI for “discipline violations.”
In addition to Zhang Yujun, CCDI also announced that the former vice chairman of China’s securities regulator Yao Gang, will be prosecuted.
Wang Qishan, the head of the CCDI criticized the culture prevalent in the party by stating, “Party concepts are faint, organisation is lax and discipline flabby. The root is in the party's internal political life being not serious and unhealthy.”
Our assessment is that the large number of those found guilty is indicative of a culture of corruption within party ranks. There needs to be sweeping changes introduced in order to effectively counter corruption in the country. There is also the added fear that political challengers could simply be pushed aside through trumped up charges.