Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive,which has targeted officials at all levels, has punished more than 1.3 million people in five years, the anti-corruption watchdog said Sunday.
The anti-corruption campaign, which Jinping launched shortly after becoming the Communist Party’s leader in 2012, was meant to fell both high-level “tigers” within the party and “flies” in lower bureaucratic ranks.
More than 1.3 million officials at the township level or lower have been punished in the past five years, including 648,000 village officials, said the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The announcement comes just as the Communist Party is preparing to convene, starting Oct.18 in a congress that takes place once every five years to anoint the party’s top leadership.
Jinping is largely expected to remain president for another five years but some reshuffling might take place in the Politburo Standing Committee, the top decision-making body.
Critics say the president has used the anti-graft campaign as a way to purge political opponents and consolidate power, along with other strategies such as tightening the control over state media and restructuring the military.
Former high-flyers whose heads have rolled in the anti-corruption drive include; Zhou Yongkang, a former security chief and Standing Committee member.
Others were Bo Xilai, former Commerce Ministry and Governor of Liaoning Province; and Sun Zhengcai, a former party secretary of Chongqing who had been seen as a potential successor to Jinping.
The head of the anti-corruption agency, Wang Qishan, is Jinping’s close friend and might remain in the Standing Committee despite passing the informal retirement age of 68.