1. Like most people, I initially thought the ‘Tigers and Flies’ campaign was using corruption as an excuse to purge challengers and future competitors to Xi and his clique. The evidence supports that opposite conclusion: it weeded out a lot of the most vulgar corruption https://twitter.com/ian_m_easton/status/1319723955964575746
3. What I recall from the reading is that the most cynical thing you could say is that *maybe* at the tippy top, the inner circle, some people were corrupt but weren’t exposed (and ruined). But that’s past tense, b/c it’s well documented CCP cadre and leadership norms changed.
4. You hear it in reporting. I’ve heard it second and third hand. If you lived in China long enough, you probably had a mid-level city cadre take you to the kingly feasts they had nearly every day, maybe followed by a Wednesday KTV night lasting till 1am.

AFAIK, that stopped.
5. You can be cynical, or even hate, the CCP and Xi and understand why the anti-corruption campaign was real. When Xi took power, he was v clear that he was worried that the CCP seemed to be following the Late Soviets fatal error of tolerating ‘eating the state’ from within.
6. Do you question whether Xi actually wants a professional modernized PLA? I don’t. So why wouldn’t he going after generals selling commissions and equipment, taking a cut on procurement and logistics. The problem was rampant and he all but hung their heads on pikes as a warning
7. Is China more corrupt today than pre-Xi? I think it depends on how you define it. There’s a lot less outright theft and graft; where it happens, ppl cover their tracks well because they’re genuinely frightened. No one, even at the tippy top, is brazen about it anymore.
8. On the other hand, there’s less of an ‘even playing field.’ There’s an argument that there’s a category useful corruption that, if not excessive, greases the wheels of gov enough for things to get done. You need more political access today that money can’t buy like it used to.
9. It’s not that @Ian_M_Easton isn’t correct that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” There’s no argument from me that a free press in China would expose more corruption than CCDI extracts from interrogations and torture. But arguing that less freedom = more corruption is false.
10. There’s a hundred different variants of arguments like this wrt to China and nearly all of them are empirically false. I’ve heard similar arguments about higher ed; that world class research universities can’t exist or be internationally competitive under the CCP’s autocracy.
11. Yet... Fudan, BeiDa, and Tsinghua are real universities, doing real research (often groundbreaking, esp in sciences), and attracting intl scholars and students. Would political reform improve them? Absolutely! But they all also perform at a high lvl despite many constraints.
You can follow @Comparativist.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: