All set to take over reins of governmental power in China, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has declared to launch a steadfast and resolute fight against corruption while attempting to “keep power restricted within the cage of regulation.”

Delivering an address at the plenary meeting of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), in Beijing on 22 January 2013, Xi ordered enhanced restraint and supervision on the use of power. The new Chinese leadership appears to be laying the foundation of propagating the idea of setting up a disciplinary, prevention and guarantee mechanism to ensure that activities involving corruption can be curbed at the initial level, and ultimately be eliminated from China.

Xi is spearheading efforts to fortify anti-corruption legislation and intra-party regulations, which would be instrumental in ascertaining that national organs exercise their power within the prescribed boundary of laws. Given that corruption as an issue is all pervasive within Chinese society as a whole, Xi has accepted that rooting out corruption would be a “long-term, complicated and arduous task”. This comes at a time when decibel levels within China are rising in favour of bringing about elemental changes to the socio-political and economic apparatus.

The mainstream cadres and party members have been given a clean chit by the higher echelons of the party, along with issuing a simultaneous caveat that cadres at various levels should bear in mind that no one will be allowed to enjoy absolute power outside the rule of law. However, that corruption still prevails at the deeper soil levels has been accepted by the Chinese leadership. The new headship aims to address the issue of corruption comprehensively by coalescing punishment with prevention, while emphasising upon prevention.

The writing on the wall at the CCDI meeting lucidly declared that in order to consolidate his control over every organ of the state apparatus, Xi Jinping is likely to push forth the agenda of clean governance wherein the usage of penalties shall not necessarily be relaxed. In his speech that was heavy with party jargon and platitudes, Xi Jinping averred, “No exception will be made when it comes to party disciplines and law… no matter who is involved.” According to figures announced by China, 4,698 county-level cadres or higher-level cadres have been punished by the CCP’s discipline watchdogs and additionally, nearly 73,000 people have been punished for corruption or dereliction of duty in 2012.

According to the publication, Qiushi, an organ of the Central Committee of the CCP, Xi has stressed that all party organs and members should strictly enforce party discipline, abide by its Constitution, and implement the party’s theories, line, principles and policies.

In order to conquer localism, any policy that has been introduced by the Central Committee will not be discounted. In this reference, implementation of the “eight-point” bureaucracy and formalism-fighting guidelines, introduced during the December 2012 meeting of the Political Bureau of the CCP’s Central Committee, should be considered as the “first step” in the party’s efforts to perk up functioning.

In what apparently appear to be obligatory steps ultimately leading to Xi’s consolidation of power, efforts at enhancing supervision of chief leaders, implementation of democratic centralism, and improving the mechanism of publicising governing activities to prevent abuse of power are being given credence. However, the real debate revolves around whether restriction of power should be implemented by limiting the government’s interference in the market, enforcement of law, distribution of resources and the freedom of speech — issues that the Chinese government is very perturbed to address.

Notwithstanding the process to ferret out and penalise offending officials in China, the most significant challenge for Xi Jinping would be charting out a specific path for implementation of anti-corruption measures. However, what comes out clearly is that by means of reprimanding, Xi has chosen to walk down the populist road in order to define his image in the coming future, especially at a time when a series of scandals and revelations have cast a shadow of doubt and distrust on China’s leadership.

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