20 January 2015
Anti-corruption policing in China is again in the news as more very senior officials fall foul of the leadership. The Vice Minister at the Ministry of State Security – the head of “No 8 Bureau” – and a number of other senior officers at the intelligence agency were detained in what may well be a pretext for moving out of favour Party leaders from positions of power. This arrest is seen as the boldest step yet in President Xi’s anti corruption programme.
Commentators anticipate a substantial “shake-up” of the State security agency responsible for counter espionage and subversion. Described as a KGB-like organisation with international reach, there is seldom media coverage given to it. It keeps surveillance on diplomats and foreign business people. As the agency spends more than the official budget for the military, the likelihood is that President Xi is restructuring China’s expansive security apparatus.
The chief of a domestic security agency was caught out in a graft scandal in mid 2014.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Vice Minister Jiang Ma was under investigation on “suspicion of serious violations of discipline and the law”, commonly used to mean misappropriation and personal use of agency assets. He would appear to be another of the high-ranking “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” publicly targetted by Xi Jiang as one of his first commitments on becoming President.
The South China Morning Post reported that Ma, the Security Service Vice Minister since 2006, is linked to Ling Jihua, a senior aide to former President Hu Jintao, and to the chief executive of Founder Group, a technology firm owned by Peking University. Both are being investigated for corruption.
The tiger hunt this month has also bagged the highest ranking of four Assistant Foreign Ministers and the Vice Secretary of the north-eastern province of Liaoning, with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announcing that they also were also under investigation for “seriously violating the law”.