Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

Author lends encouragement to anti-corruption drive

Ling Jiefang, who writes historical novels under a pen name, says CCDI should promote traditional family values in its fight

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:12pm

A mainland author of popular historical novels is helping China’s top anti-graft watchdog in its efforts to promote its wide-ranging investigation into corrupt officials.

Ling Jiefang, best known for books about Qing dynasty emperors written using the pen name Er Yue He, made remarks in the first part of the commission’s anti-graft interview series, Listen to the Masters.

One of the favourite writers of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) secretary Wang Qishan, Ling said the commission should make greater use of traditional family values, such as loyalty, to help fight corruption. The power of those values could well provide inner strength for a high-ranking official who is tempted by it, he said.

CCDI officials visited Ling twice in Henan earlier this month, and the resulting video interview has been available on the commission’s website since Tuesday.

One of his main themes was the “unprincipled worship of power” – something deeply rooted in Chinese history – which he called an “important factor” in corruption.

“Corruption is a social issue, and we should not tie it to any political system,” Ling said. He added that a “comparatively centralised” political system could root out corruption, as long as it is led by wise top officials. Every country faces the issue regardless of its ideology.

But the corruption issues China faces today, he said, “are very tough … History has told us that corruption will ultimately lead to the fall [of a dynasty].”

That’s why he called the current anti-corruption campaign the toughest in Chinese history, and advised CCDI to keep pursuing graft to help reshape the country’s “official centred values”.

“Spare some worship to the scholars, for instance, so that people will feel they have something else to pursue besides a high official post,” he said.

The video interview comes as part of CCDI’s sweeping investigation into corrupt officials on all levels. Earlier this year, it produced some historical television dramas about frugal officials and political cartoons, to try to make the anti-graft campaign more accessible to the general public, Beijing Times, a local newspaper run by the official People’s Daily, quoted commentators as saying.

This month, the police chief of Tianjin, Wu Changshun, was detained for “suspected serious violations of law and party discipline” – a phrase often used to refer to corruption.

At least 35 ministers and governors have been sacked since China’s new leadership, directed by President Xi Jinping, vowed to bring down both “tigers and flies” [euphemism for corrupt officials] in late 2012, the Beijing-based The Mirror reported this month.

Ling’s comments echoed his discussion with Wang in March, during the national meetings of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference. Wang had told Ling that he had read Ling’s books, and called him his confidant.