China: Back to the Future

Andrew J. Nathan from New York Review of Books
In 2023, Xi Jinping will conclude his second term as China’s president. Ever since Deng Xiaoping revised the country’s constitution more than 35 years ago, two consecutive terms have been the most that a president can legally serve. But it has...

One-Time Potential Rival to China’s Xi Draws Life Sentence

Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
A former top Communist Party official once seen as a potential successor and rival to Chinese President Xi Jinping received a life sentence on corruption charges—a punishment state media portrayed as lenient.

One-Time Potential Rival to China’s Xi Pleads Guilty to Corruption

Chun Han Wong
Wall Street Journal
A purged Communist Party politician once regarded as a future Chinese leader stood trial on corruption charges in a case seen as part of an effort by President Xi Jinping to neutralize potential political rivals.

Depth of Field

04.02.18

Slow Trains, Shrinking Boomtowns, and Men Who Know Ice

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this issue of Depth of Field, we take a ride on one of China’s slowest trains, meet the workers who cut the ice for Harbin’s winter festival, and follow two mentally disabled “sent-down youth” on a rare trip home to visit their families. Also:...

Excerpts

03.12.18

A Chinese Mayor-to-Be Tells His Story

Zak Dychtwald
When I lived with Tom in the city of Chengdu in 2015 and into 2016, he was a 23-year-old probationary member of the Chinese Communist Party, on his way to joining the organization’s nearly 90 million full members. He wanted to embark on a career in...

New Chinese Agency Could Undercut Other Anti-Corruption Efforts

Dimitar Gueorguiev and Jonathan...
Brookings Institution
China’s National People’s Congress is expected to ratify legislation during the next two weeks to create a new supra-agency, the National Supervision Commission, to institutionalize President Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign as a...

Hong Kong Millionaire’s Arrest Exposes Chinese Corruption in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping pleaded not guilty last month to corruption charges brought by a U.S. federal court in New York after he was accused of offering bribes worth a total of U.S.$2.9 million to prominent...

“Shameless” and “Two-Faced”: China’s Astonishing Rebuke of Its Former Internet Czar

Zheping Huang
Quartz
China’s former internet czar was expelled from the Communist Party and will be prosecuted for corruption, the party’s top graft-busting agency said yesterday (Feb. 13).

Former Chongqing Party Chief Charged with Bribery in China

Edward White
Financial Times
A former top Chinese official once tipped as a potential successor to Xi Jinping has been charged with corruption, state media reported on Tuesday.

China Detains Executive Close to Family of Former Prime Minister

David Barboza and Michael Forsythe
New York Times
The authorities in China have detained a wealthy investor who went into business with relatives of the previous prime minister, a sign that the anticorruption campaign initiated five years ago by President Xi Jinping may again be closing in on a...

China’s Retired Anti-Graft Tsar Wang Qishan Holds on to Top Legislature Spot to Stay in the Political Game

Jun Mai
South China Morning Post
Wang is set to take on the vice-presidency but his power will depend on what Xi Jinping needs him to do, analyst says.

Viewpoint

01.19.18

China’s Leaders Are Poised to Strike a Blow to Its Legal System

Stanley Lubman
President Xi Jinping has escalated China’s war on corruption with a proposed new law that would expand the reach of the Party in an unprecedented manner. Under current law, two formally separate entities deal with cases of corruption: A Party...

The Red Emperor

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
This fall, the Nineteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) gave proof that during his five years as general secretary Xi Jinping has become the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong died in 1976. Most observers, Chinese and...

In China, Fears That New Anticorruption Agency Will Be Above the Law

Chris Buckley
New York Times
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is pushing to establish a new anticorruption agency with sweeping powers to sidestep the courts and lock up anyone on the government payroll for months without access to a lawyer — a plan that has met surprisingly vocal...

In Saudi Crown Prince’s Crackdown, Echoes of Xi’s China

Keith Zhai and David Tweed
Bloomberg
If Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bid to speed economic reforms by rounding up rivals in graft raids sounds familiar, that’s because China has been doing it for years.

Conversation

10.27.17

What’s the Takeaway from the 19th Party Congress?

Jessica Batke, Peter Mattis & more
The day after the Party Congress ended on October 24, Xi Jinping strode across the stage of the massive Great Hall of the People with the six newly announced members of the 19th Politburo Standing Committee, the body that rules China. What might...

China Vows to Scrap Secret Interrogations of Communist Party Members

Reuters
China’s ruling Communist Party will scrap the practice of secretive interrogations known as “shuanggui”, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, part of broader reforms of its anti-corruption architecture.

Viewpoint

10.17.17

Stein Ringen: ‘The Truth About China’

Stein Ringen
Democracies have found it difficult to deal with the great dictatorships. So now with China. The first difficulty is to recognize just what we are up against, and to avoid wishful thinking.In his first five years, Xi Jinping has reshaped the Chinese...

Exile Guo Wengui Casts Shadow over China's Party Congress

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
If anyone thought that what happens in the Chinese Communist party stays in the Chinese Communist party, a determined gadfly ensconced in New York has proven them wrong.

Guo Wengui, the Maverick Chinese Billionaire Who Threatens to Crash Xi’s Party

Tom Phillips
Guardian
He paints himself as the Che Guevara of Chinese crony capitalism, a billionaire insurgent vowing to bring down the system from the comfort of his $68m New York home.

China Names New Leaders of Anti-Corruption Agencies at Financial Regulators

South China Morning Post
China’s Communist Party has named new top officials to lead anti-corruption agencies at the country’s banking and insurance regulators as it makes final preparations for a twice-a-decade party congress later this month.

Communist Party Expels Former High-Flyer Sun Zhengcai in Countdown to Key Congress

Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post
Former political star Sun Zhengcai has been expelled from China’s Communist Party and will face prosecution, state media reported on Friday – two months after his shock downfall and just weeks before a key five-yearly leadership reshuffle.

Fugitive Tycoon Guo Wengui Assailed by Businessman Who Says He Was Framed for Crimes

South China Morning Post
China’s highest profile fugitive, exiled billionaire Guo Wengui, is under attack from a former business partner who claims Guo got him framed for crimes he says he did not commit.

China Puts Retired Head of State News Agency under Investigation for Graft

South China Morning Post
The retired former head ofa state-run Chinese news agency has been put under investigation for suspected graft, the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Wednesday. 

Conversation

08.03.17

As China Reins in Capital, What Next for Global Trade?

Yu Zhou & Peter Knaack
China’s Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping, are tightening controls on overseas spending by the country’s biggest companies and their highly visible billionaire CEOs. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Xi personally signed off on...

Man Tipped as China's Future President Ousted as Xi Jinping Wields 'Iron Discipline'

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Sun Zhengcai rose from farming studies in Hertfordshire to Communist party elite. Many fear his downfall signals turbulent times in Beijing.

Former Political Star in China Is Under Party Investigation

New York Times
The Chinese Communist Party said on Monday that Sun Zhengcai, a high-flying politician who had been seen as a potential future premier, was under investigation over suspected “grave violations of discipline,” ending his career and raising the stakes...

Sinica Podcast

07.19.17

Guo Wengui: The Extraordinary Tale of a Chinese Billionaire Turned Dissident

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
The life and times of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui reads much like an epic play, so it is fitting that we have included with this podcast a dramatis personæ to explain the many characters in Guo’s story. Scroll to the bottom, below the...

Fugitive Chinese Tycoon ‘Snoops on Middle Eastern Royal Families’ in Leaked Phone Messages

Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post
Recordings of what appear to be phone voice messages left by fugitive Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui requesting information about powerful royal family members in the Middle East and other international public figures have emerged online.

Guo Wengui Told Niece and Other Executives to Fraudulently Obtain Loans, Court Hears

Jun Mai
South China Morning Post
The niece of exiled tycoon Guo Wengui was one of three executives he instructed to use fake documents to obtain loans for his Henan real estate firm, a court in central China heard on Wednesday.

China's Government Tightens Its Grip On Golf, Shuts Down Courses

Rob Schmitz
NPR
By 2004, many of China's hundreds of golf courses were found to be built on valuable farmland through corrupt land deals...

Beijing Is Investigating Some of China’s Top Overseas Deal Makers

Wall Street Journal
China’s banking regulator is conducting a sweeping check on the borrowings of some of the country’s top overseas deal makers, according to people with knowledge of the matter, in one of the most forceful attempts yet to get a grip on runaway debt.

Anbang Chairman’s Detention Underlines China Business Risks

Tom Mitchell, Henny Sender, Gabriel...
Financial Times
Wu Xiaohui was targeted by insurance regulator and anti-corruption investigators.

Xi Jinping Is ‘Putting the House in Order.’ or Is China Facing Destabilizing Changes?

Washington Post
Instead of political instability, recent political science research suggests that Xi’s reforms are on track to repair an undisciplined CCP and strengthen China’s fragmented government.

What Happened at Mar-a-Lago?

Paul Haenle & Zha Daojiong from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
One week before their first in-person meeting, President Trump told the world on Twitter that he expected the dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to be “a very difficult one” unless China was prepared to make major concessions on issues...

Books

04.05.17

China’s Crony Capitalism

Minxin Pei
When Deng Xiaoping launched China on the path to economic reform in the late 1970s, he vowed to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More than three decades later, China’s efforts to modernize have yielded something very different from the working people’s paradise Deng envisioned: an incipient kleptocracy, characterized by endemic corruption, soaring income inequality, and growing social tensions. China’s Crony Capitalism traces the origins of China’s present-day troubles to the series of incomplete reforms from the post-Tiananmen era that decentralized the control of public property without clarifying its ownership.Beginning in the 1990s, changes in the control and ownership rights of state-owned assets allowed well-connected government officials and businessmen to amass huge fortunes through the systematic looting of state-owned property—in particular land, natural resources, and assets in state-run enterprises. Mustering compelling evidence from over two hundred corruption cases involving government and law enforcement officials, private businessmen, and organized crime members, Minxin Pei shows how collusion among elites has spawned an illicit market for power inside the party-state, in which bribes and official appointments are surreptitiously but routinely traded. This system of crony capitalism has created a legacy of criminality and entrenched privilege that will make any movement toward democracy difficult and disorderly.Rejecting conventional platitudes about the resilience of Chinese Communist Party rule, Pei gathers unambiguous evidence that beneath China’s facade of ever-expanding prosperity and power lies a Leninist state in an advanced stage of decay. —Harvard University Press{chop}

China Corruption Prosecutions Drop for First Time in Five Years

Hudson Lockett
Financial Times
Fall of 20% in party officials handed to courts marks change of tack in campaign

China Swings back at Golf, Shutting down 111 Courses

Normaan Merchant
Associated Press
China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.

The Chinese Government Finally Admitted That Its Economic Data Was Made Up

Zheping Huang
Quartz
For many who have long believed that China’s economic growth figures seemed too good—and tidy—to be true, they now have official confirmation of that skepticism.

China’s Elite Bodyguards Are Struggling to Find Enough Rich People to Protect

Charlie Campbell
Time
Training bodyguards has been big business in China for years. Now, however, a slowing economy and an anti-corruption drive are putting the brakes on the private security industry

China’s Defense Ministry Confirms Probe of Leading General Wang Jianping

Laura Zhou
South China Morning Post
Ministry announcement verifies August report that Wang had been arrested on the suspicion of taking bribes

China’s Second Most Powerful Man Warns of Dissent and Corruption in the CCP

Zheping Huang
Quartz
Tough talk on corruption is not unheard of from Wang, but his harsh manner and candid rundown of the party’s problems mean the speech was given great importance

U.S. Won’t Tolerate Pressure from China on Fugitive Families

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
China has upset Western countries by sending undercover agents to try and get suspects back, although it says it has changed tactics after complaints

U.S. Returns Chinese Fugitive After 13 Years on the Run

James Areddy
Wall Street Journal
The U.S. government sent back to China a former official long wanted on corruption charges, in an act hailed by Beijing as a major diplomatic success

China’s 6th Plenum Begins With a Focus on Intra-Party Discipline: What to Expect

Ankit Panda
Diplomat
The highlight of China’s 2016 political calendar, the Sixth Plenum of the 18th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, kicked off on Monday

China’s Real ‘House of Cards’: TV Series Unveils Graft Excess

Ting Shi
Bloomberg
The eight-episode series, called “Always On the Road,” is being beamed daily to hundreds of millions of Chinese homes through Oct. 25 on CCTV’s Channel 1

China Anti-Corruption Campaign Backfires

Hudson Lockett
Financial Times
Xi Jinping drive to cleanse Communist party of graft tarnishes its image

Media

09.29.16

How to Fix China’s Crooked Congress

Thomas Kellogg
Nearly four years into Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, Chinese citizens could be forgiven if their eyes glaze over at the news of yet another high official’s fall from grace. But even the most jaded likely could not ignore...

China to Prosecute Former Top Executives for Alleged Graft

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
Next on the chopping block: former Sinopec, China Southern execs, Tibet top security official

Chinese Agents Enter Canada on Tourist Visas to Coerce Return of Fugitive Expats

Robert Fife
Globe and Mail
Trudeau begins negotiations for an extradition treaty with China

Four Years On: Where is Xi Jinping’s Anti-corruption Drive Headed?

Andrew Wedeman
China Policy Institute Blog
As the anti-corruption campaign launched by CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping approaches its fourth anniversary, the question ought to be asked: where is it going?

Chinese Business’ Complicated Role in Kenyan Corruption

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
One of the many simple, widely-believed narratives about the Chinese in Africa is that Chinese businesses fuel corruption across the continent. Chinese corporate corruption in Africa is well documented, from allegations of paying off corrupt...

Mayor of Major Chinese Port City of Tianjin Faces Corruption Inquiry

Guardian
City’s acting Communist party chief is accused of ‘serious discipline breaches’ by investigators.

Media

08.08.16

How Chinese Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Their Military Again

Every evening, as regular and obstreperous as a rooster, the People’s Liberation Army (P.L.A.) soldiers sing from the barracks outside my Beijing home, a chorus of teenage troops reminding the neighborhood when it’s dinner time:“Unity is strength,...

Survey: Indian Firms Best, China Worst on Transparency

New York Times
The report highlighted the urgent need for big multinational companies to do more to fight corruption.

Nephew of China’s Former Domestic Security Tsar Jailed for Graft

Megha Rajagopalan
Channel NewsAsia
Zhou’s family has been ensnared in President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption, a broad campaign that has felled officials at all levels of government including many of Xi’s top political opponents.

China to Promote Anti-Corruption Efforts at G20: Minister

Michael Martina
Reuters
As one of China's top 10 priorities for September's summit in Hangzhou, Wang Yi said China would promote a three-pronged approach to anti-corruption cooperation...

Anticorruption Campaign in China Snares Former Top Party Official

Edward Wong
New York Times
Chinese prosecutors have charged Ling Jihua with taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power, according to Xinhua.

Chinese Corruption Gets House of Cards Treatment with Communist Mini-Series

Tom Phillips
Guardian
State-sanctioned TV drama will focus on the Communist Party’s resolve to eradicate corruption.

Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse

Orville Schell from New York Review of Books
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals express...