Has Xi's graft crackdown run out of steam?
Analysts say candid coverage of 'consultations' may indicate leadership lacks will to take action
President Xi Jinping has consulted retired party leaders on his anti-corruption and austerity campaign, the Communist Party's official newspaper reported on Monday - a move some analysts believe is a sign that the current leadership lacks the confidence or political will to ring the changes of real political reform.
People's Daily yesterday gave a rare glimpse into behind-the-scenes details of the intensive politburo meetings on June 22-25. The meetings assessed the anti-corruption and frugality measures that Xi launched earlier this year.
"Entrusted by General Secretary Xi Jinping, Liu Yunshan, Zhao Leji, Li Zhanshu, and Zhao Hongzhu have heard opinion from old comrades who were members of the Politburo Standing Committee, through various channels during late May and early June," the People's Daily reported.
The Politburo meetings, which lasted 61/2 days, took more than two months to prepare, the report said. The preparations also included consultations with nearly 500 senior central and regional party or government officials.
Since becoming Communist Party chief more than six months ago, Xi has intensified a campaign to crack down on corruption and launched a high-profile drive to improve party officials' performance, including cutting red tape and extravagance - moves that raised hopes that the new leaders would eventually introduce meaningful political reform.
Now analysts say that the latest sanctioned revelations in state media indicate that the new leadership is more cautious or conservative than previously thought, particularly on politically sensitive issues.
"Reports that the new leaders have consulted retired leaders over this campaign suggest a lack of confidence among current leaders, because it shows the incumbents are concerned that their drive would meet strong resistance from vested interests," said Professor Gu Su , a political affairs analyst at Nanjing University.
Chen Ziming , a political affairs analyst, said it indicated a lack of political will and determination on Xi's part to push through meaningful political reform to root out corruption.
So-called "consultation with former leaders" often smacks of political compromises that result in "less tough measures and more lenient punishments" for the anti-graft campaign, Chen said.
Gu was doubtful that Xi's anti-graft campaign would succeed if political reform were placed on the back-burner.
"The party won't succeed [in stamping out corruption] if it insists on keeping it an internal affair of the communist party without external checks and balances," Gu said.