Xi’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Gets Closer to Home Bases

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has snared a deputy governor of southeastern Fujian province, where the Chinese president spent 17 years in senior positions.

Xu Gang, 57, is under investigation for suspected serious discipline and law violations, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s top anti-graft agency, said Friday in a statement on its website. State media, including China National Radio, have called Xu the “first tiger in Fujian.”

Xu and a senior official from Shanghai, named in a graft probe earlier this week, represent the first fallen cadres from Xi’s former provincial power bases. Their probes may reflect efforts to show Xi’s campaign to nab “flies and tigers,” or low-and high-level officials, is a bid to root out corruption and not a political purge.

“These investigations sent a clear message that no one can be absolved of wrongdoing even though he had worked closely with Xi,” said Zhuang Deshui, a governance professor who studies anti-corruption at Peking University. “Their connections to the top cannot help them.”

Xi, who started his Fujian provincial working experience in 1985 as a vice mayor of the port city of Xiamen, formally became governor of Fujian in 2000 and stayed at that position until 2002. Xu Gang was the province’s deputy secretary general from 2000 to 2003.

The corruption probe into Dai Haibo, a deputy secretary general of Shanghai Municipality, was announced March 17. Dai, former head of China’s first free trade zone, was dubbed “Shanghai’s first tiger” in state media as he was the initial senior official investigated in the financial hub.

Xi was Shanghai party chief in 2007 and governed southeastern Zhejiang province from 2002 to 2007.

The “first tiger” in Zhejiang was snared Feb. 16 when Si Xinliang, the vice chairman of the top provincial political advisory body, was put under investigation. The CCDI has said inspection teams were sent to Fujian in March last year and to Shanghai and Zhejiang in July.

Xi’s crackdown on graft -- the harshest since the republic’s founding in October 1949, according to state media -- started weeks after he became party boss in November 2012 and has snared more than 100,000 cadres according to CCDI figures released in December.

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