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The blind spot of China's anti-corruption drive

(Xinhua)    15:48, January 21, 2015
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BEIJING, Jan. 21  -- Does China's sweeping anti-corruption drive, which has netted thousands of low-level officials and brought down untouchable figures like Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua, have a blind spot? Maybe.

Wang Qishan, head of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), sent a new warning that officials shouldn't mix art with power, according to an editorial published on the website of CCDI on Tuesday.

"Some Party cadres shamelessly give calligraphy works to others as gifts when they can not even write well," the editorial quoted Wang as saying.

"Officials should not grab meat from the plates of artists."

Corruption in art circles, though not new, has remained a long-ignored area since ancient times.

In the biography of Hu Xueyan, a businessman during China's Qing Dynasty, a story was told about how Hu masterfully bribed a powerful official.

Hu needed the official's approval for a business project. After learning the official had a painting at home, Hu found an intermediary and offered to buy the painting for a colossal sum of money. After the deal was made, Hu revisited the official and returned the painting.

Such a clandestine way of bribing officials was not only inherited by corrupt officials in following generations, but was also modernized, posing another challenge to the Party after corruption on the surface has been cleansed.

Many officials like to assume a title in an art association and in turn take delight in seeing their works gain value. According to the editorial, one provincial calligraphy association has dozens of vice presidents.

Artists catering to the vanity of officials tend to become friends with them, profiting from the relation. While true artists inevitably lose interest in literary and artistic creation.

"What's the ulterior motive behind those who grab the crown of laurels in art with the hands of power?" said the editorial.

The past two years have proved there is nothing off limits and no sanctuary in China's high-handed crackdown on corruption. Now, by declaring war on corruption in art circles, the top leadership of CPC has sent a message that any blind spots will be exposed.

"Strong remedies must be continuously used to cure the illness," Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a CCDI meeting.

"A landslide victory" has not yet been won, and challenges remain, he said.

Apart from art circles, graft officials should also guard against other blind spots. For instance, corruption in the military and in areas usually shrouded by secrecy and political taboo.

Recently, the names of 16 senior military officials were released, after which, vice minister of state security was also announced being probed. Such moves were seldom seen before. Perhaps, more blind spots will be revealed soon. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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