IN BOTH SIZE AND SCOPE, corruption in China is an enormous concern for the Communist Party of China (CPC). It has proved to be a constant embarrassment, especially because of the large number of corruption cases involving the Party cadre. In the run-up to the 18th National Congress of the CPC, to be held in Beijing in the last quarter of 2012, during which Vice President Xi Jinping and ‘First-ranked’ Vice Premier Li Keqiang are set to replace Paramount Leader Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the primary agenda for the Party is combating corruption. Complicating matters for the political elite in China is that, despite trying to sequester its ‘netizens’ inside a highly policed cyberspace, an increasingly vigilant populace, even though lacking political choice, has found creative ways to express its opinions on an issue sullying the nation.
Since it is a political issue with huge socioeconomic implications, the mood in the CPC is for quickly ramping up certain aspects of the law to rein in corruption and, equally, arrest the Party’s fast-fraying legitimacy. In fact, three landmark cases that gripped the attention of Chinese citizens over the past half-decade all involved Party members.
In July 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, was executed for receiving bribes of ¥6.49 million (approximately $850,000). As chief regulator of a State Council body mandated with approving new drugs, licences and drafting quality standards for the pharmaceutical industry, Zheng’s sins of omission and commission were considered serious enough to warrant his execution. It later became clear that his ordering the approvals of more than 150,000 new medications and supplements, bypassing quality norms, had led to the global recall of Chinese health products adulterated and infused with heavy metals and toxins.