GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
The issue of corruption in China has always been a point of divide between China + its critics. President Xi Jinping made clear at the commencement of his first term that eliminating corruption within the Party was a crucial first goal of his leadership. The critics immediately dismissed this initiative as a power play by Xi intended to eliminate his rivals for power + secure his position as the Leader.
This was not an issue of corruption but an issue of power and what better way to remove challengers to his position, they said, than to arrest them on the pretext of corruption + leave them to languish in jail or even suffer execution.
President Xi had a quite different explanation for his policy. Corruption does exist in the Party as well as in Chinese society at large. Left unchecked, undetected and unpunished, corruption will flourish and the Party’s standing with the People will suffer badly. The People will view the Party as a large group of people who look after themselves, (89m members of the Party) their family + friends at the expense of the obligation to serve the People. Xi Jinping has therefore always prioritised the elimination of corruption in the Party. This week the Chinese media announced that Tong Daochi, a former senior Chinese official who has worked at the World Bank, has been given a suspended death sentence for bribery. He became the latest high-ranking Communist party member punished under President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
The 54-year-old who has also worked at the Rand Corporation, a US-based think-tank, was sentenced after allegedly netting more than $41m from bribes + insider trading. Tong’s sentence was the latest in a growing number of cases targeting the intersection between finance + the state.
Officials convicted of corruption who have received life or suspended death sentences have typically been released within 20 years – a recent exception being Lai Xiaomin, the former president of state-controlled financial group Huarong, who was executed three weeks after being sentenced.