Xi’s failing moral grip on leadership and bureaucracy

Since the ascent of Xi Jinping as the General Secretary of the CPC in 2012, President of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and CMC (Central Military Commission) chairman, he has projected as one of his core focus area of the elimination of corruption and raising the moral righteousness of the leadership and rank and file of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The number of cases of corruption cases registered since 2012 when Xi became General Secretary are (1):

Table 1

Year Cases
2012 155144
2013 173186
2014 226000
2015 330000
2016 413000
2017 527000
2018 638000
2019 619000
2020 619000
2021 631000
2022 596000

Today’s anti-corruption controls in People’s Republic of China are carried by (i) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) which is an arm of the Central Committee of CPC, with CCDI ruling body selected for five-year terms to coincide with those of the Central Committee members, and by the National Supervision Commission (NSC), a government body. CCDI in particular plays a central role in investigating and punishing corrupt officials, who are almost all Communist Party members, from the central, provincial and county levels.
The anti-corruption drive against high officials known as “tigers” and low officials known as “flies” is the largest drive in CPC history. The data of the ‘tigers” is (2):


(2012 – 2021) No. of Officials No. of officials convicted of corruption Percentage of officials convicted of corruption per year
Position Principal – Deputy Principal – Deputy Principal – Deputy – Total

National Leaders



12 – 65


1 – 6


0.8% – 0.9% – 0.9%

Departmental leaders of the State Council  

41 – 177


5 – 17


1.2% – 1% – 1%

Provincial Leaders 124 – 756 10 – 92 0.8% – 1.2% – 1.2%
Prefecture Leaders 1332 – — 62 – — 0.5% – — – 0.5%

This is also borne out by the most recent events of removal of the Qin Gang as state councilor and foreign minister and General Li Shangfu from his defence ministerial position and as state councillor minister, as well as the top leadership of the Rocket Force was purged recently in 2023.
Corruption is mostly associated with financial impropriety as also it is indicative of low moral standards, however some of the highly placed party and government officials have been involved in scandalous affairs which has compromised Xi’s leadership position as it is understood that he has an important part in selection and placement of these individuals.

Some of the more recent sexual predatory behaviour involving Chinese officials are of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accused Communist Party former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli and his wife of coercing her into sex, she was “disappeared”. Upon her reappearance a year later, she retracted all allegations and retired from public life. Earlier in a survey of notices of corruption investigations, the Legal Daily, an official newspaper, found that 63 senior officials were accused of having “inappropriate sexual relationships” during a 16-month period starting in October 2017. (3)  Xi Jinping understood the libidinous nature of the Chinese leadership and did away with waitresses and female translators serving at major functions to prevent any untoward advances by his comrades in leadership. It is understood that the current prime minister Li Qiang has followed in his footsteps of banning waitresses and female translators.

With all these cases registered and the number of prosecution of high profile arrests and conviction there seems to be no let up in the tide of leadership and rank and file being prevented from following the path of corruption and hence morale compromise. Most individuals against cases have been registered have been party members for a long duration and hence indoctrinated in the ethos of the CPC further emphasising the view. The inference from the data highlighted leads to conclusion that a large number of officials charged with corruption and moral compromise have been politically motivated born out by an abysmally low number of convictions. The second take away is that the impact of the drive of anti corruption has had minimal impact on at least the elite leadership of the Chinese party. Low moral bar and financial corruption by the leadership are both indicators of a leadership motivated by personal gratification rather than national duty and welfare of the Chinese population. The frequency and prevalence of corruption and vice in the higher echelons of the Chinese hierarchy is indicative of a rot in the morale fibre and runs deep within it.

1 https://www.statista.com/statistics/250147/number-of-curruption-cases-of-chinese-communist-party-ccp-officials-in-china/

2 https://wid.world/document/anti-corruption-campaign-in-china-an-empirical-investigation-world-inequality-lab-working-paper-2023-05/

3 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/29/business/china-metoo-local-corruption.html


Party bureaucracy, Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jingping