Personal Ties, Meritocracy, and China's Anti-Corruption Campaign
38 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2016 Last revised: 25 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 21, 2018
We examine the targeting and motivations of the first phase of China's anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping (2012-2015). Combining data on officials' personal networks revealed during the campaign with biographical and economic data, we find evidence that the campaign indeed targeted corruption. In addition, individuals, networks, and geographic regions that departed sharply from meritocratic governance practices appear to have been a primary target, with higher rates of indictment. This is consistent with the party's own claim that the crackdown was designed to reduce corruption and strengthen party-led meritocracy. However, individuals with personal ties to Xi Jinping appear to be exempt from investigation while, individuals with ties to the other six members of the Politburo Standing Committee had no special protection. Taken together, these findings indicate that the crackdown served both its stated goal of strengthening the party and the unstated goal of consolidating Xi's power.
Keywords: anti-corruption campaign, meritocracy, political purge, economic growth
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation