After the Bo Xilai Trial: Does Corruption Threaten China's Future?
18 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2013 Last revised: 15 Jan 2014
Date Written: November 14, 2013
A popular sentiment among Chinese that - corruption could lead to the end of the state and anti-corruption could lead to the end of the Chinese Communist Party - provides a unique perspective from which to interpret China’s current prospects for institutional reform. This paper offers an assessment of the scandal involving Chongqing party secretary, Central Politburo member and former Minister for Commerce Bo Xilai, and identifies the underlying reasons for the deepening of corruption in Chinese politics. We argue that campaign-style anti-corruption efforts such as President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on ‘tigers’ and ‘flies’ (powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats) although useful for establishing the new leadership’s presence risk the same problems that have undermined ‘strike hard’ campaigns against crime. Such campaigns have limited impact on elite and systemic corruption and can be camouflage for proxy power struggles, which impede China’s political development.
Keywords: China, corruption, elite crime, authoritarian resilience, Bo Xilai, Xi Jinping
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