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China: Is Bo Xilai's corruption crackdown good for China?

Technology for Transparency Network This post is part of the Technology for Transparency Network where we research technology that promotes accountability and transparency worldwide· All Posts

While results from the ongoing crackdown on corruption in central China's Chongqing municipality have shown the campaign's effectiveness and boosted the popularity of Bo Xilai, the high-ranking CCP official heading it, online discussion has also featured several questions.

Such as questioning of the CCP internal discipline ‘double regulation’, through which has already led to the death of one high-ranking police official suspect. Also, Bo's motives, whether the crackdown is spurred more by his political ambitions and an eye on the top spot than a commitment to transparency and rule of law. There's also the problem of how the CCP might effectively curb corruption when it's the biggest player in it.

The easiest posts to come across are those like Sina blogger Zhang Xiaofeng‘s from September 20, supportive of Bo and eager to see more tough action taken against the omnipresent corruption:

黑恶势力的发展,不仅威胁到人民群众的生命、财产安全,而且影响到全面小康社会和和谐社会建设;不仅影响到党在人民心目中的形象,而且任其发展下去,将危及共产党的执政地位。

薄熙来在重庆发动的打黑除恶斗争,表现了他对党和国家长治久安的高度的责任感,表现了他清正廉洁、执政为民的公仆心,表现了他疾恶如仇、无私无畏的英雄气概。深得党心,深得民心。

尽管有些人对薄熙来打黑扫恶行动,有这样那样的议论,但绝大多数的人民群众并不以为然。一个领导干部不管他有什么样的追求,只要他真心实意地“弯下腰来为人民扛活”,只要他真心实意为人民谋福祉,他就是好官,就会得到人民群众衷心的爱戴,衷心的拥护。愿中国所有的官,为官当如薄熙来!

The growth of malignant forces don't just threaten the livelihood and property of the people, but also threaten the very establishment of a well-off and harmonious society; they don't just affect the image of the Party within the hearts and minds of the people, but if left to continue unchecked, stand to jeopardize the ruling status of the Communist Party.

Though some people have this and that to say about Bo Xilai's corruption crackdown, the vast majority of the people have no objection whatsoever. Regardless of whatever ambitions a top-level cadre might have, as long as he is genuinely willing to put his back into it when working for the people and genuinely keep their welfare in mind, then he will be a good leader who will win the heartfelt love, affection and support of the people. If only all officials in China could be like Bo Xilai!

Clearly, crusading high-ranking technocrats aren't sufficient when those being rounded up this year are the rank-and-file as well as the leadership of China various judiciary bodies; writes the Safe Ocean Sohu blogger on September 20:

过去,一些领导在谈论自己防区内的反腐倡廉成效时,总是说廉政建设大方向是好的,腐败分子只是“极个别”,而普通民众眼里却有截然不同的印象。重庆此次对腐败分子给予暴风骤雨般的打击,也告诉国家反腐败部门一个令人失望的现实,那就是中国腐败现象已经十分严重了,绝对不是“极个别”的问题。

重庆此次“打黑”也好,“肃贪”也罢,挖出了如此多的贪官,就是硬道理。 “打黑”行动让众多腐败的党员干部落马,不但没有给党抹黑,反而因为凸显出党中央的反腐决心,而给党增了光、添了彩,也算是为“建国六十周年”献上了一份大礼。

对于重庆市此次“打黑除恶”行动,全国各地的网民都期待,自己的城市何时也能效仿重庆?

In the past, some leaders when talking about the results of anti-corruption, good government efforts in their region, would always say that the overall direction was good, that corrupt officials were rare exception, meanwhile average citizens had a completely different perception. With this storm attack now on corruption in Chongqing, it has shown the national anti-corruption departments a rather disappointing reality, which is that the level of corruption in China today is extremely severe, and absolutely not a matter of “rare exception”.

Whether what we're seeing in Chongqing is simply a crackdown on graft or actually a struggle against corruption, the fact is that is has dug up quite a few corrupt officials, and that is what's most important. With all the corrupt Party officials and cadres taken down in this crackdown action, it still hasn't smeared the reputation of the Party, in fact has displayed the central Party leadership's resolve to fight corruption, brightening up the Party's promise, you could even say this is a great gift leading up to the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the PRC.

As for this ‘strike down graft, eliminate evil’ action in Chongqing, netizens from across the country are waiting to see when their city will start following the lead of Chongqing.

wpeicq
How tired you are, Secretary Bo!

The image above, taken recently in Chongqing, was saved by well-known Internet personality Wang Pei before it was harmonized, and seen by many as a throwback to the displays of excessive idol worship seen during the Cultural Revolution; Bo's campaign urging Chongqing residents to ‘sing socialist songs’ and the use of mobile phones to push revolutionary Maoist memes this year have been the sort of behavior which led prominent writer and twitter Lian Yue to state this week:

重庆这么容易就发起一次小型文革,这是全体中国人的悲哀。

With how easy it's been for Chongqing to launch a small-scale cultural revolution, this is a tragedy for all Chinese people.

In a Sidewiki post alongside news today of Bo's ongoing socialist song revival, Twitter user Taoge wrote of Bo:

这家伙 脑壳有毛病
为了争夺权力 无所不用其极
当然,某些人为了保住权力,也是一丘之貉。

This guy, there's something wrong with his head.
He'll do absolutely anything to gain power.
Of course, some people, in order to hold on to their power, are no different.

Is breaking the law justifiable means in an attempt to uphold it and stamp out corruption? KDNet author Wang Ce makes the case that the law must come first, in his September 21 post:

有法不依,没有法治精神,没有反腐治贪的长效机制,搞一百次“文革”、一百次“打黑除恶风暴”,其结局都只能是越打越黑、越反越腐。谁能保证今天铁面无私的反腐英雄,明天不会在不受约束的权力腐蚀下走上前任的老路?
中国人有一个“重道轻器”的恶劣习惯,提到反贪惩腐就在“正义与真理”的大道理上绕弯子,没有人肯鞠躬俯首,像英国人那样简捷严谨地遵循法治原则解决问题。所以说地痞流氓不可怕,贪官恶吏也不可怕,可怕的是我们从上到下对规则的蔑视。

Disregard of the law, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of lasting mechanisms in the fight against corruption, instead a hundred “cultural revolutions, a hundred “storms to fight corruption and root out evil”, the result of all which is the more they fight the darker things get, and the worse corruption gets. Who can ensure that the impartial and incorruptible anti-corruption heroes of today, with their unrestricted power, won't end up on the same path as their predecessors tomorrow?

The Chinese people have the vile habit of honoring and being lenient on authority figures, beating around the bush with grand talk of “justice” and “truth” when fighting and prosecuting corruption is mentioned; also, nobody is willing to subject themselves to investigation or legal action, not like in England where they abide strictly by the letter of the law in resolving problems. Which is why local riff-raff aren't the worst, and neither are corrupt officials; what's most frightening is our pervasive defiance of laws and regulations.

At two years and running with over 2,000 arrests, how far is Bo prepared to go in his good fight? Quite possibly until 2012 if the Beijing Calling bridgeblogger is to be believed, in his post ‘Yet to be Crowned’:

However, there are others who are also vying for the post — Vice-Premier Li Keqiang who is backed by Hu, and Bo Xilai, currently the party boss in Chongqing who recently tried to break up some corruption rings there.

Both Bo and Xi are “princelings”, whose fathers were heroes in teh 1949 revolution. Xi has the backing of former President Jiang Zemin, who seems to still hold power behind the scenes.

It'll be interesting to see what happens after October 1, when the rest and relaxation of the National Day holiday is over and the power brokering continues behind the scenes.

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