01/29/2013, 00.00
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Politburo member under investigation for corruption

by Chen Weijun
After new chief Xi Jinping calls for action, party opens an investigation against Politburo member Li Jianguo. The 25-member body is one of the country's top political institutions. However, the signals are mixed. Some whistle-blowers end up investigated themselves.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - As graft, embezzlement and sex scandals continue to shake the Chinese Communist Party, the 'cleansing campaign' launched by new party leader Xi Jinping appears to be a lot of smoke and mirror since it still relies on old-fashioned tools like intimidation and summary arrests designed to keep the facts from ordinary Chinese, as the latest cases indicate.

At present, the most notable case is that of Li Jianguo, one of the 25 members of the Politburo, currently under investigation for reportedly engineering the promotion of his nephew to a plum government position. Now, he has apparently checked into a Beijing military hospital, suffering from stress.

Li Xinde, an influential citizen journalist, was the first person to interview the whistleblower exposing Li Jianguo's high-flying nephew.

"When Xi came into power, people were accustomed to ineffective anti-corruption campaigns," Li Xinde explained. The fact that Li case has been followed up by the authorities, he says, shows that things are changing in China.

In his first speech as general secretary of the Communist Party after his election, Xi Jinping said he would fight corruption, battling both "tigers" and "flies", i.e. officials at all ranks. State media welcomed the pledge as a great change for socialist ethics.

Yet, the authorities continue in their old, tired ways. Some bloggers and ordinary citizens who complained about embezzlement and unlawful use of public land have been taken away to mental facilities (the regime's latest repressive trick) or to 'black jails', extralegal detention centres where many petitioners end up.

The case involving Zhu Ruifeng, a blogger who exposed a sex scandal in Chongqing, illustrates the party's double standard in matters of corruption and media coverage. His exposé led to the firing of 11 high-ranking city officials. However, after summoning him, police interrogated him for seven hours in Beijing. Chongqing is the old stronghold of disgraced party boss Bo Xilai.

After his release, Zhu told colleagues that the police was not interested in protecting whistle-blowers but rather in catching them.

"Two Chongqing police officers asked me to hand over all of the materials I had related to the scandal. I refused because that demand was obviously part of a fishing expedition [to identify the source of the tapes]," Zhu said.

Thanks to his work, a district party chief in Chongqing was sacked after Zhu in late November uploaded screenshots of a video showing him engaged in intimate relations with an 18-year-old woman. However, if the official, Lei Zhengfu, was fired, the woman in the video was detained.

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See also
In addition to corruption, CPP increasingly caught up in sex scandals
"Dictatorial and corrupt" Chinese politicians oppressing farmers
Chongqing, another sex scandal shakes the Party
New legislation against sex offences involving minors
Police chief sacked in Xinjiang as more sex scandals break out in China


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