Chinese President Xi Jinping says corruption remains biggest threat to Communist Party

Echo Xie, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jan 24 2021 09:18 AM

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated the need to fight corruption if the country is to achieve its economic and political goals.

Speaking on Friday at the annual conference of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Xi said the threat of corruption remained serious, and promised to get tough on Communist Party officials who feigned loyalty while engaging in corrupt activities.

"As the biggest risk threatening the party's governance, corruption still exists," state media quoted him as saying.

"The struggle between corruption and anti-corruption efforts will continue to exist for a long period to come," he said.

"(We must) thoroughly implement the principle of exercising strict governance over the party and maintain the political orientation ... to ensure the development goals and tasks of the 14th five-year plan are fulfilled."

The situation was "severe and complex", he said, adding that political and economic issues were becoming intertwined.

Xi has been fighting an anti-corruption campaign since taking office in 2012. His efforts led to the demise of party heavyweights like ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang, former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and close aide of former president Hu Jintao, Ling Jihua.

State media accused all three not only of making illicit financial gains but also forming cliques against the party leadership.

Xi also urged regulatory bodies and other authorities to tighten oversight and governance in the financial sector.

Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of state-owned financial company China Huarong Asset Management, was sentenced to death at the start of the year after being found guilty of taking and seeking bribes worth almost 1.8 billion yuan (US$277 million).

The CCDI said in December that 32 officials at the provincial or ministerial level were investigated last year. In the first 11 months of 2020, 1,229 fugitives were returned to China to face charges and more than 2.4 billion yuan in ill-gotten gains was retrieved, it said.

Xie Maosong, a political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said officials were not only taking cash bribes but engaging in different kinds of corruption.

"For example, it could be equity, and the person may not hold the shares himself. That form of bribery is not as simple as before and it's not easy to investigate," he said.

"Financial security is an important part of national security. If financial risk can't be controlled, it will threaten economic security and may threaten political security."

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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