Xi's Corruption Crackdown

How Bribery and Graft Threaten the Chinese Dream

A police officer stands guard at the entrance to the Jinan Intermediate People's Court on the third day of the trial of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai in Jinan, Shandong province August 24, 2013. Carlos Barria / Reuters

In a series of speeches he delivered shortly after taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast corruption as not merely a significant problem for his country but an existential threat. Endemic corruption, he warned, could lead to “the collapse of the [Chinese Communist] Party and the downfall of the state.” For the past two years, Xi has carried out a sweeping, highly publicized anticorruption campaign. In terms of sheer volume, the results have been impressive: according to official statistics, the party has punished some 270,000 of its cadres for corrupt activities, reaching into almost every part of the government and every level of China’s vast bureaucracy. The most serious offenders have been prosecuted and imprisoned; some have even been sentenced to death.

The majority of the people caught up in Xi’s crackdown have been low- or midlevel party members and functionaries. But corruption investigations have also led to

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