Thursday, 5 May 2016

A Fire That Never Really Got Lit

A follow-up to the previous post:  Renmin Ribao today reported on the success of the campaign against “flies” in Guangxi, claiming that “as of March of this year, Guangxi has dealt with the problem of corruption and malpractices against the interests of the masses.” 

According to the report, 6832 officials were investigated for having ‘unhealthy tendencies:  3039 people received punishment; 1518 received verbal warnings; 486 people had their cases referred to judicial organs.”


Some of those investigated were also compelled to reimburse the locality in which their malfeasance occurred. 

The report noted that the investigations began last year—specifically, in September 2015—and therefore precedes the airing of the program that’s discussed in the previous post. 

In other words, the implicit claim was that the province (or even Beijing, through the Central Discipline and Inspection Commission, or CCDI) was looking to the allegations about graft in Nanning before the television event in question. 

It’s not entirely clear what the purpose of this announcement is, and it could simply be a one-off attempt to address a particularly pernicious sort of local corruption in a single place.  At the same time, the report is a sharp signal to officials (and any unconvinced activists) that it's the CCDI that will attend to these challenges; that there’s no need for local programs exposing corruption to act unilaterally.  In other words, Xi’s anticorruption crusade still wants to manage matters from above, and Beijing doesn't like seeing local governments or agents acting on their behalf trying to take the lead from below. 

So, if there was an experiment by some to get back to using television programming to expose graft and cadres behaving badly, that’s now over. 

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