17 September 2019
President Xi Jinping warns that the upcoming second round of his mass-line campaign will be sweeping. Photo: Reuters
President Xi Jinping warns that the upcoming second round of his mass-line campaign will be sweeping. Photo: Reuters

POLICY WATCH: Xi highlights Hebei role in anti-graft campaign

President Xi Jinping {習近平} used a recent visit to Hebei province to remind provincial officials that they are the linchpin of his anti-corruption campaign.

Xi told local party leaders and bureaucrats to unwaveringly implement reform, fight official extravagance and promote transparency in governance.

Provincial party chief Zhou Benshu {周本順} gave Xi a report card on Hebei’s own efforts to advance the so-called “mass line” campaign during the Dec. 9 visit.

The campaign was launched in June by the communist leadership to boost ties between the party and the people and rid the system of undesirable work styles — formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

Xi’s remarks were the latest in a slew of edicts meant to push his anti-corruption mantra to all corners of the country. These were timed to highlight the role of local cadres and provincial officials in fostering transparency in government affairs and ensuring compliance with a stringent code of conduct for all state workers and their bosses.

These initiatives have become part of far-reaching reform announced by the party at its third plenum in November.

Xi had visited Hebei in July and September for a series of inspection tours. Since then, he has kept the province on his radar screen.

Hebei’s role in Xi’s reform agenda draws on its geographical importance. The province is home to Beijing, the nation’s capital, and Tianjin, an important trading port.

In his report, Zhou said 17,000 official cars and 237 government building projects have been canceled. Official gazetting has been cut by 42 percent and public spending on official receptions slashed 24 percent. More than 2,700 officials have been punished for various disciplinary violations.

Xi warned that the upcoming second phase of the mass-line campaign will be sweeping and the challenges greater. He urged local officials to plan ahead to ensure an orderly and effective rollout. Any attempts to water down the campaign will be punished. Finally, he said the entire process should be subject to supervision by the people.

Hebei officials have their work cut out for them — the province is one of several key provinces most affected by restructuring.

With an inefficient and overcrowded manufacturing sector and a worsening air pollution problem, Hebei will be a huge challenge for any reformer.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer