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Anti-Corruption by the Numbers

Paraphrased liberally from Original data not verified.

In a recent article, the Xinhua New Service’s internet affairs reporters analyzed publicly available data on China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign which was provided by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s website. Their consideration of reported investigations over the period of December 5, 2012 to April 11 2014 is quite revealing and worth a careful look.

Since the first reported ‘case investigation’ from the Discipline Commission website’s special feature on anti-corruption, a total of 285 leading cadres were implicated over the 492 day period. On average 4 officials were targeted each week, with the highest record for a single day being 12 persons on March 27, 2014, where Hainan alone announced the investigation of nine officials at the county level.

The Central Inspection Group completed two inspection tours from May 17, 2013 to April 1, 2014. During this period, there was a marked increase in the number of leading cadres investigated as compared to the overall figures, with 252 individuals being investigated (an average of 5 persons per week).

corruption chart

Focusing in on an even narrower time frame reveals other trends caused by the increased anti-corruption efforts. Prior to July 2013, the officials invested each month were scattered, with only 5 persons reported for the first time through the case investigation column in the preceding seven months (December 2012-June 2013). From July 2013 to October 2013, however, the number of persons reported each month climbed to an average of 16 persons per month. In November 2013, the number fell again, but began to rebound in December. In the 3 months from December 2013 to March 2014, 170 persons were reported for an average of over 42 persons per month; and in the first 11 days of April 2014 alone, 34 persons were reported as being investigated.




Hainan, Sichuan and Guangdong were the 3 provinces with the most corrupt officials reported under investigation.

As of the analysis, 29 provincial-level regions had already had cases of leading cadres publicly reported as being investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Regarding enterprises directly under the central government, the oil industry had the largest number of inspections with five officials being investigated, followed by China Mobile Corporation and the publishing industry with three investigations each. Six Public Institutions (事业单位) directly under the central government also had investigations with no clear concentration in any unit.

Amongst the provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, Hainan had the most reported investigations (24) with Sichuan (23) and Guangdong (22) close behind. In addition, Hubei, Hunan and Xinjiang also had more than 15 reported cases each.

Further analysis revealed that Sichuan is remarkable for the large number of higher ranking officials investigated (tigers rather than flies), such as the former deputy secretary of the provincial party committee Li Chuncheng, former chairman of the provincial political consultative conference Li Chongxi, and former chairman of the Provincial literary federation Guo Yongxiang. Of the officials investigated in Sichuan, 80% were at the bureau level.

Hubei also had a number of high ranking official investigated, including former vice-chairman of the provincial political consultative committee Chen Baihuai and former vice-governor Guo Youming. In Hubei, 50% of those investigated were at the bureau level.

Among the 22 persons reported for Guangdong, 7 were from the people’s congress or political consultative committee systems.


There was no public information available regarding the age of 99 of the 285 people reported during this period. Where information was available, those born in the 1950s were a particularly high risk group, standing at 52.7% of the total. Those born in the 1960s were second , representing 44.1% of the total. It needs to be noted that this is essentially consistent with the age distribution of officials across the regions.

The oldest official investigated was Guo Yongxiang of the Sichuan Literary Federation at age 65, and the youngest was 40 year-old Jun Dong Naijun, who was serving on the standing committee of the Chongqing Yongzhou District. Another interesting detail is that only 7 of the investigated officials have been women, with three born in the 50s, three in the 60s and one born in the 70s.

Position Grade and Character

According to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection website, more than 20 provincial or ministerial level cadres have been or are being investigated. The largest number of officials investigated, nearly 200, were at the bureau level, accounting for about 2/3 of the total, while the number of staff level officials investigated is in the single digits.

Based on the publicly available materials, 184 of the officials reported as under investigation come from party committees or governmental departments, making up the largest group by far. The second largest category, lagging far behind, is those working in state owned enterprises, with 29 persons being investigated. Public institutions accounted for 27 investigations with 18 from colleges and universities, primarily vocational and technical schools.

Corrupt Conduct

Of the 285 public reports, no explanation of the reason for the investigation was given in 220 cases, stating only that the inquiry was still ongoing. For the 65 cases were a reason was given, many contained multiple types of unlawful conduct or violations of disciplinary rules. Among these, ‘accepting bribes’ was most common and cited in over 70% of the cases. Abuse or neglect of office was present in about half of these cases. Seven cases gave moral failings or corrupt lifestyles as a reason, and with increased public access to information on officials’ lives via the internet and other channels, investigations for this sort of offense may be on the rise.



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