Mark Collins – Top Dragon Purging On/Chinese Economy’s “Oopsies”

Further to this post,

China: Top Dragon Purging Briskly and Broadly

the NY Times updates us on two fronts–the start:

Fading Economy and Graft Crackdown Rattle China’s Leaders

The start to the day was hardly unusual for a senior Chinese leader in a country grappling with an economic slowdown. On the morning of July 24, Zhou Benshun attended a meeting to promote one of President Xi Jinping’s signature projects, a plan to boost growth by building a “supercity” that would integrate Beijing with the region around it.

But by 6:10 p.m. that day, Mr. Zhou’s career was over, and he faced years in prison.

The Communist Party’s anticorruption agency announced it was investigating him on “suspicion of serious violations of party discipline and the law,” signaling his ouster as the party chief of Hebei Province, one of the nation’s most populous.

Mr. Zhou’s sudden downfall — he is the first sitting provincial party chief to be purged by Mr. Xi — underscores the uncertainty that permeates the Communist elite as they contend with two unnerving developments beyond their control: an economic slowdown that appears to be worse than officials had anticipated and that could mark the end of China’s era of fast growth, and a campaign against official corruption that has continued longer and reached higher than most had expected.

Driving decisions on both issues is Mr. Xi, who took the party’s helm nearly three years ago and has pursued an ambitious agenda fraught with political risk. Now, weeks before a summit meeting in Washington with President Obama, those risks appear to be growing, and there are signs that Mr. Xi and his strong-willed leadership style face increasingly bold resistance inside the party that could limit his ability to pursue his goals.

Mr. Xi has positioned himself as the chief architect of economic policy — usually the prime minister’s job — and has vowed to reshape the economy, exposing himself to blame if growth continues to sputter. At the same time, Mr. Xi is making enemies with an anticorruption drive that has taken down some of the most powerful men in the country and sidelined more than a hundred thousand lower-ranking officials…


In the past two weeks…two leading official news outlets have published unusual editorials hinting at internal turmoil.

The first, which appeared in the party’s flagship People’s Daily on Aug. 10, warned bluntly that retired leaders should stay out of politics and “cool off” like a cup of tea after a guest has left. Without identifying anyone, it accused “some leading cadres” of posing a “quandary for new leaders, fettering their hands from doing bold work” and “undermining party cohesion and fighting strength.”

Another commentary published Wednesday on the website of the state broadcaster China Central Television described fierce resistance to Mr. Xi’s agenda and called on his supporters to step up their efforts to carry out his policies. The article, which was widely distributed on popular Chinese websites, was notable not only because it openly acknowledged the opposition to Mr. Xi but also because of its strident language.

“The stubbornness, ferocity, complexity and weirdness of those who haven’t adapted to reform or are even opposed to reform may go beyond what people imagine,” it said…

On verra, as President Xi clearly intends to be pretty much a one-dragon show. Very relevant to that show:

China: President Xi Gripping the PLA, Part 2

Plus more here on the grinding economy.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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