Reckless and Audacious

by Gloria Davies

Tigers and Flies
Image: Sinking Stone @Chenshimanhua

Zhou Yongkang 周永康 had previously headed China’s formidable state security system. Bo Xilai 薄熙来 was the former party secretary of China’s most populous city, Chongqing. Xu Caihou 徐才厚 had been a general in the People’s Liberation Army. Ling Jihua 令计划, the former head of the United Front Work Department, was a key advisor to Xi’s predecessor, former party general secretary Hu Jintao 胡锦涛. And Su Rong 苏荣 had served as deputy head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. These men were among the first ‘tigers’ to be arrested for corruption from 2012 to 2014. In early 2013, while still president-in-waiting, Xi vowed to crack down on both ‘tigers’ and ‘flies’. ‘Flies’ denoted lowly bureaucrats. ‘Tigers’ referred to officials in senior positions, ranked at the deputy provincial level, deputy ministry level, or higher. In Xi’s January 2015 speech, he described these particular ‘tigers’ as having flouted ‘party discipline and political rules, to the point of recklessness and audaciousness!’