【英语中国】中国反腐引发担忧 Xi’s campaign against the corrupt takes autocratic turn

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2014-6-26 06:22

小艾摘要: Ever since Mao Zedong launched the devastating 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution that wiped out China’s intelligentsia and much of its traditional culture, scholars and China watchers have wondered what ...
Xi’s campaign against the corrupt takes autocratic turn
Ever since Mao Zedong launched the devastating 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution that wiped out China’s intelligentsia and much of its traditional culture, scholars and China watchers have wondered what the lingering effects of that period would be.

A little over a year into his first term as president, China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is providing the beginning of an answer.

Mr Xi came of age in that turbulent time and watched as his elite revolutionary family and everything he knew were torn to pieces. Now it seems it is his turn to wreak havoc on the cozy networks of power and wealth that have established themselves in the era of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

In recent weeks, the president’s signature campaign against official corruption?appears?to?have spilled into something more significant and potentially destabilising for the increasingly autocratic regime.

In his efforts to clean house, Mr Xi is targeting a broad swath of individuals, families, factions and societal forces that do not answer directly to him.

The tantalising signs of a full-blown political purge are coming thick and fast, even if they are still mostly hidden between the lines of the country’s tightly controlled state media.

In a typically terse one-line statement late last week, China’s anti-corruption authorities revealed they were investigating a mid-ranking provincial official by the name of Ling Zhengce for “serious crimes and breaches of Communist party discipline”. There was nothing special about the announcement,?except?that Ling Zhengce is the older brother of Ling Jihua, head of the United Front Work Department – a government agency that seeks to influence non-party elite – and a former right-hand man of retired president Hu Jintao.

Arrests like that are not accidents since everyone in the power structure is acutely aware of where invisible patronage linkages lie. Mr Ling has been particularly vulnerable since his only son died in a Ferrari crash in 2012 that also badly injured two naked female passengers. But the assault on the Ling clan, and by extension Mr Hu, is just the latest jab at some of the most powerful ruling families in China, including some previously seen as patrons to Mr Xi.

In late March, the Financial Times reported that China’s two living retired paramount leaders, Mr Hu and his immediate predecessor Jiang Zemin, had both warned Mr Xi not to take his anti-corruption campaign too far. Not only did the campaign have the potential to undermine morale and loyalty within party ranks, some retired elders and their families were getting nervous they could become targets themselves.

But in the months since, Mr Xi has only ramped up his onslaught.

Former internal security chief Zhou Yongkang, officially the ninth most powerful man in China until late 2012, has been in detention since late last year.

An investigation into power sector corruption has been interpreted as a direct attack on the family and network of former premier Li Peng, the man known to many as the “Butcher of Beijing” for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The son of former anti-corruption boss He Guoqiang, previously the eighth most powerful man in China, and at least one of his close business associates have been detained on corruption charges. The Chinese military is also in turmoil as several top-ranking generals from the previous administration have been charged with corruption and selling officer ranks.

The official line is that Mr Xi is serious about tackling corruption and blind to where he might find it. But in Beijing’s political circles, many are muttering about the vindictive nature of this purge and the autocratic turn accompanying it.

The message is clear: the authority to decide who is corrupt and who is not is the exclusive domain of Mr Xi and his closest?allies.?As?the?purge rumbles on, many of the pundits who initially compared Mr Xi to Deng Xiaoping, the architect of market reforms and modern China, are starting to think he may be more like Mao.

自从毛泽东发动了扫荡中国知识阶层和传统文化的十年文革以来,学者和中国观察人士就一直在揣测,“十年浩劫”将会留下哪些持续性的影响。

如果你想知道答案的端倪,不妨看看担任中国国家主席才一年多一点儿的习近平的所作所为。

习近平是在十年文革的动荡年代长大的,当时他目睹自己的精英革命家庭和他所知道的一切都被撕成了碎片。现在似乎轮到他来打击在“具有中国特色的社会主义”时代完成布局的盘根错节的权力与财富网了。

近几周来,习近平所领导的反腐行动似乎已演变成了意义更为重大的运动,对于日渐威权主义的中共体制的稳定,这一反腐运动具有潜在的破坏性。

习近平在他的清理门户的努力中,瞄准了不直接受他领导的大量个人、家族、派系和社会力量。

一场全面政治清洗的鲜明迹象扑面而来,尽管很大程度上这些迹象仍然隐藏在受到严密控制的官方媒体的字里行间。

上周晚些时候,中国反腐部门发布了一份一行字的简洁声明,称他们正在调查“涉嫌严重违纪违法”的中层省级官员令政策。该声明没有什么特别之处,只是令政策是中共中央统战部(United Front Work Department)部长、上届国家主席胡锦涛在任时的得力助手令计划的兄长。统战部是中共内部一个旨在影响党外精英的部门。

这类拘捕并不是偶然的决定,因为权力结构中的每个人都清楚地知道那张看不见的恩惠关系网在哪里。2012年,令计划的儿子因驾驶法拉利跑车出车祸而死,也令同车的两名裸体女乘客受重伤,自那以来,令计划的地位就特别脆弱。但对令氏家族进行的连累胡锦涛的打击,只不过是针对中国一些最有权势的政治家族(包括此前被视为支持习近平的家族)最近的一次出手。

英国《金融时报》今年3月下旬曾报道,中国健在的两位已退休最高领导人——胡锦涛和他的前任江泽民——都曾警告习近平不要在反腐行动上走得太远。反腐行动不但可能破坏党内的士气和忠诚度,而且使某些退下来的老干部及其家族担心,自己可能成为被打击的目标。

但随后几个月里,习近平反而加大了反腐力度。

前中共中央政法委书记周永康自去年末以来一直被拘禁。2012年末之前,按照中共官方的排名,周永康是中国第九位最有权势的人物。

对电力行业腐败的调查,已被外界解读为对前总理李鹏家族及关系网的直接打击。在许多人眼里,李鹏是在1989年天安门事件中扮演关键角色的“北京屠夫”。

前中纪委书记贺国强的儿子及其至少一名生意伙伴因腐败指控而遭到拘捕。贺国强曾是排名第八位的中国最有权势的人物。中国军方也处于动荡中,上届政府中多名职位最高的将军已被控腐败和卖官。

官方的说法是,习近平对打击腐败是动真格的,无论在哪里发现腐败行为都照打不误。但在北京政治圈内,许多人开始抱怨这场清洗的报复性质及其伴随的威权特征。

外界得到的信息很明确:谁腐败谁不腐败,要由习近平及其最亲密盟友来决定。随着清洗行动的继续推进,许多最初把习近平比作邓小平(市场化改革和现代中国总设计师)的评论人士,开始认为习近平可能更像毛泽东。

译者/何黎

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