Killing Tigers, Swatting Flies: China Punished Almost 300,000 for Corruption in 2015

As part of China's sweeping crackdown on corruption, some 300,000 officials were punished last year.

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 03:  Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yamon July 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. The invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Tony Tan Keng Yam of the Republic of Singapore will pay a state visit to China from June 29 to July 4.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 03: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yamon July 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. The invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Tony Tan Keng Yam of the Republic of Singapore will pay a state visit to China from June 29 to July 4. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 03: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yamon July 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. The invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Tony Tan Keng Yam of the Republic of Singapore will pay a state visit to China from June 29 to July 4. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Since he was named leader of his nation’s Communist Party in late 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a massive crackdown on government corruption.

Since he was named leader of his nation’s Communist Party in late 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a massive crackdown on government corruption.

His method? “Killing tigers and swatting flies” — meaning every government official, whether at low or high levels, would be subject to corruption investigations.

In 2015, that meant punishing almost 300,000 officials for their alleged complicity in embezzlement, bribery, and other corrupt acts. The Communist Party’s Central Committee for Discipline Inspection announced this week that 200,000 of those were given a “light punishment” but that another 82,000 faced severe repercussions, in addition to extreme demotions for 10 “centrally appointed and administered officials.”

The announcement did not elaborate much on the specifics of the punishments or cases, although state-run media regularly publishes articles about officials who are under investigation for their involvement in various illegal schemes.

Xi’s administration released the numbers as around 3,000 delegates from across China descended on Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for the National People’s Congress for the country’s annual parliamentary session.

It was likely intended as a reminder to the delegates that China has a no-tolerance policy for corruption. China’s financial sector will be at the heart of this year’s session as it aims to remain the world’s second-largest economy, despite major challenges last year, when the economy grew only 6.9 percent — its slowest in around 25 years.

Photo Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.