By Vinay Joshi
The visible reason of tensions between India & China at Doklam are Chinese geographical claims over plateau claimed by Bhutan. But careful analysis of China’s domestic politics points the fingers at different reality- The Cold War between two Camps- President Xi Jinping’s camp and another side camp of Communist Party leaders and PLA officers. This cold war has resulted into a power struggle in Beijing which forced Xi Jinping to flex his muscles against India only to consolidate his political position on domestic turf full of powerful opponents. With so many enemies which Jinping cloned during his tenure, he needs formidable enemy to divert attention from simmering anger against his rule, which he doing at Sikkim- Bhutan- Tibet Tri junction.
We will shed light on various measures that Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken in China under the pretext of eradicating corruption or infusing discipline in Communist Party and Chinese Armed Forces or for crushing pro-democracy and right seeking entities. All such measures witnessed large scale prosecutions and convictions of Communist leaders, military officers, businessmen and activists set the wave of anger against high handed President Jinping. To quench the fire of unrest and anguish against himself, Jinping needs a good punching bag, which will serve as a vent for simmering anger against him and to provide a reliable safety valve for carefully manufactured jingoism, just to divert Chinese masses from domestic issues.
In today’s China, awfully omnipotent and omnipresent President Xi Jinping is calling shots on all major domestic, international, diplomatic, defence, and security and Communist Party matters. His aura and power which he wields in hand have placed him on the list of strongest Chinese leader in the Communists China’s history next to Mao. Jinping’s reach across power circle and governance has made him an invincible figure.
Obviously, his dominance in all spheres of public life as General Secretary of Communist Party, President of Government of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Jinping’s hunger and grudge for long lasting power is becoming enviable to many in CPC and Chinese Military.
In this piece, we will take a look at the ostentatious anti-corruption campaign which Jinping is running through Secretary General Yang Xiaochao of powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. The said campaign has prosecuted and convicted many military officers and Communist leaders in last few years.
Convictions of Senior Party Leaders and Military Officers
** Bo Xilai was party chief of Chongqing who was put on trial for corruption and found embezzlement of public funds, guilty of bribery and abuse of power. The court awarded him life imprisonment. He was unceremoniously removed from office after his wife found guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Unlike other convictions in Communists regime in China, Bo Xilai fiercely denied charges and told the court that his confessions were exploited under duress and all evidence and confessions are doctored.
** General Guo Boxiong was vice chairman of Military Commission, who might have posed threat to Xi Jinping in future as his influence in PLA was unparalleled. To reach to Guo Boxiong, his son Maj. Gen. Guo Zhenggan has been put under investigation for corruption charges and the Gen Boxiong has been charged and prosecuted.
In July 2016, a Chinese military court sentenced 74-year-old General Guo Boxiong former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China to life imprisonment for taking bribes. He is the highest figure in China to be prosecuted and convicted for corruption. He was deprived of his rank and his all personal assets and belongings have been confiscated by the Chinese government.
The most surprising part of the case was that General Guo was next to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president and chairman of Central Military Commission. Moreover, he was one of the 25 members of Chinese Communist Party’s superpower Politburo. He was accused of accepting bribes in cash and kind quid pro quo favouring and promoting officers.
** General Xu Caihou, the former vice chairman of Central Military Commission of China was accused of corruption on March 15, 2014, and investigation were launched against him for corruption. But a year later in March 2015, he died of bladder cancer leaving behind the incomplete trial. This was a second prominent figure with Military Commission background to be prosecuted.
** National Security Chief Zhou Yongkang was one of the most powerful figures in China when he retired in 2012. Xi Jinping assumed the office in 2012 and then launched an investigation of Yongkang. In June 2015 he was declared guilty of corruption and abuse of power, taking bribes and deliberately leaking state secrets for money.
People’s court awarded Zhou with life imprisonment, stripped off his political rights for life and confiscation of his personal assets.
** Zhou Benshun was party secretary of Hebei province surrounding capital Beijing and hub of Chinese steel production. The court sentenced him to 15 years in jail after he found guilty of corruption.
In typical Communist style, Zhou admitted his crime and repented for the same!
** General Wang Jianping was deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department under the powerful Central Military Commission. He was the first serving general in China to be prosecuted and convicted for graft charges. His wife which was also serving officer has been booked and prosecuted for graft charges. Both were awarded jail for bribery and corruption
** Ling Jihua was the close aid of former president Hu Jintao prosecuted on graft charges at Tianjin court. He found guilty of taking more than 77 million yuan in bribes, illegally obtaining and selling state secrets and stashing money with gross abuse of power.
** Su Rong, a former vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a policy governing body which is part of the Communist Party’s government structure. He found guilty of bribery, collecting money with abuse of power and possessing huge disproportionate assets
16 PLA Commanders Purged in a row
In January 2015 China’s People’s Liberation Army witnessed biggest and most audacious anti-corruption drive in which 16 serving army commanders have been axed and prosecuted for various levels of corruptions. The prominent figures were Liu Zheng, Dy Director- General Logistics Department, Fan Changmi, dy political commissar- Lanzhou Military Command, Zhang Daixin, dy commander- Heilongjiang Military Command, Yu Daqing, dy political commissar- second artillery force and others.
For the first time, The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) which was earlier used to investigate corruption and discipline related cases of party members has been given sweeping powers to investigate cases of officers pertaining to PLA. It has marked a significant change in the scenario as Chinese Military handles Business Empire providing ample opportunities to its officers to steal their share in the form of undercover partnerships and kickbacks during deals worth billions of dollars.
Cold War between Jinping and Others
The list of prosecuted/ convicted party leaders and military officers provided here is just for reference, the sole objective of mentioning it without following chronology and sequence was to give the idea of the scale of a crackdown on influential figures under Jinping Campaign.
Though Jinping publically repeating his resolve to eradicate corruption within party and military, the figures prosecuted during his term narrates a different story. Top ranking Communist Party leaders and Military Generals are put on trial and sent to jails straightaway, leaving behind traumatised leaders with a subtle but strong message to silently follow Jinping’s line lest face the music.
In a country ruled by a single party, the government is run by party members paving the way for rampant corruption. Businesses though operated by private players have huge interference of government on all levels which offers immense opportunities to Party Members to interfere and exchange kickbacks in one form or another. What Xi Jinping is precisely doing is just exploiting loopholes in single party rule to shortlist his opponents and potential rebels which might thwart his 2018 fortunes of retaining his position.
As Jinping knows all possible places where either party member or military officer can steal his share, he can shortlist, segregate and prosecute his Would-Be opponents with surgical precision. And he is successfully doing the same since assuming the power in 2012.
Case of Sun Zhengcai
Possible Contender for Jinping Replacement
The latest case of Sun Zhengcai is the most important case to prove the point. Just three few ago, on 16th July 20, 2017, Communist Party stripped of Sun Zhengcai of his all posts including the post of party chief of Chongqing metropolis in southwestern China. He is just 53 years old and had a promising career ahead of party and after 2 terms he would be a strong contender for Chinese Presidency and Party General Secretary post. He was a member of 25 member ruling Politburo which is enough to tell about his power and position. But just before crucial party meeting Sun has been stripped off all posts making him simple Chinese criminal with tonnes of corruption allegations on his head!
Sun Zhengcai’s abrupt ouster shows how Xi Jinping is brazenly preparing to cull and oust everyone which might come in his ways. So firmly he is pursuing his agenda to stick to the power that, he is on a rampage to neutralise all potential contenders and opponents which might prove a headache to him in near and distant future.
Within next one year, the China would experience more such actions against everyone who is trying to raise his head against Xi Jinping and his coterie and more exposures of so called corruptions and indiscipline from across the Communist Party and Military Bosses.
As a result, Jinping would create an atmosphere for more fierce military conflict, diplomatic standoffs and most likely more sabre rattling in and around Asia and Pacific Theatres. China would continue to push and assert his commercial and military claims all over the world in days to come.
Vinay Joshi served as social worker in Garo Hills- Meghalaya from year 2001 to 2009, Vinay can speak about 11 Indian languages. Currently studying India’s engagement with China in South China Sea and India ocean region.