China sees fresh round of political purges as Xi clings to greater power

Move seen as part of Xi’s cronyism-centered political maneuvering

A man wearing a face mask stands near a display of copies of the book "The Governance of China" by Xi Jinping.

A man wearing a face mask stands near a display of copies of the book "The Governance of China" by Xi Jinping. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chinese Communist Party (CPP) has embarked on a new round of purges some believe is part of General Secretary Xi Jinping's (習近平) effort to bolster his power ahead of the 20th National Congress, which will take place two years from now.

Chen Yixin (陳一新), secretary-general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and a senior ally to Xi, announced in July a campaign to thoroughly cleanse China’s political and judicial system. The Commission oversees all legal enforcement organs and therefore is very powerful.

At least 35 party cadres from the police and judicial authorities have been investigated, reassigned, or removed from their post since the purge began, reported NOWnews. The targeted officials include those associated with Zhou Yongkang (周永康), a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee who was sentenced to life in prison over corruption and abuse of power charges during the first purge after Xi rose to power in 2012.

The move signals Xi’s intention to place his cronies high up in the country’s police and legal systems to ensure a greater level of loyalty prior to the 20th National Congress in 2022, said Kou Chien-wen (寇健文), director of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University. The year 2022 also marks the tenth anniversary since Xi took the reins of the CCP.

Xi is seeking to shore up his position in the leadership through a secured military and policing system amid growing discontent inside the party, CNA quoted Kou as saying.

In a dramatic scene from the latest round of purges, Deputy Mayor of Shanghai Gong Daoan (龔道安) was arrested on Aug. 17, when he went tomb-sweeping in his hometown of Jingzhou before being taken by the police later in the day. There were reportedly no signs pointing to his downfall prior to the arrest, according to Liberty Times.