An intensified campaign to crack down on official corruption is sweeping across China, with public attention focused on which big fish will be netted next after the Communist Party’s announcement last month of the dismissal of Chen Liangyu as its Shanghai chief.
Chen, who was also one of the 24 members of the politburo – the power core of China – is alleged to have been involved in the embezzlement of social-security funds in Shanghai worth millions of US dollars.
The anti-corruption drive has won the wholehearted support of the general public, with the growing expectation that President Hu Jintao will restore some social justice by fighting corrupt officials.
Official corruption is so rampant that there is a saying in China that if all officials were lined up and shot, some innocent ones might be killed. But if every other one was shot, many who were corrupt would be spared.
In this situation, it is easy and convenient for Chinese leaders to use anti-graft campaigns as a weapon to purge political rivals. This is not a new ploy – Chinese emperors often used crackdowns on corruption to get rid of officials they did not like.