by Shamim Zakaria
BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The plenary sessions of the top disciplinary agency of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) are usually tone-setting times for China's anti-graft work.
It was at such a meeting nine years ago, when Xi Jinping, who was just about two months into his role as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, vowed to crack down on high-ranking "tigers" as well as lower-level "flies" involved in corruption.
In the ensuing years, Xi's far-reaching anti-graft campaign has ushered in an era of immaculate governance in China, with people's trust in the leadership continuing to grow.
This week, addressing the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Xi stressed rigorous and unswerving efforts in further promoting full and strict Party governance.
Since its launch, the anti-corruption dragnet has not only nabbed high-ranking officials but has also tracked down venal officials who have fled abroad.
In less than a decade, more than 400 officials at the ministerial level or above have been punished or investigated. From 2014 to 2020, over 8,300 fugitives were repatriated from more than 120 countries and regions.
Among several other major achievements, China's "sweeping victory" over corruption will be an indelible part of Xi's leadership legacy.
As the adage goes, "corruption is the root cause of all evils," the success of numerous societal upliftment initiatives can be ascribed to Xi's flagship anti-corruption drive.
Last year, China achieved a decisive triumph, eradicating absolute poverty. This feat would not have been possible without a team of clean and honest poverty-relief officials. To aid in the implementation of targeted poverty alleviation, the top disciplinary agency adopted tough measures to prevent corruption from impeding poverty alleviation.
China's anti-corruption campaign is remarkable for a number of reasons, the most significant of which is that nowhere else in the world can one see an approach with such unusual energy, scale, and perseverance, led by the top leader.
Xi compares corruption to poison and often cites an ancient proverb to emphasize the resolve of "scrapping poison off the bone" to maintain the Party's "good health."
The anti-graft campaign calls for "no mercy." It's about preventing and eliminating corruption and ensuring that officials are honest, the government is clean, and political integrity is maintained.
The repercussions of engaging in malpractice and crimes are severe. Convicted individuals face the harshest penalties, including the death penalty or languishing in prison for life, with their property and unlawful assets confiscated.
Whether serving or retired, the anti-graft dragnet spares none, and it is possibly unique globally to have an anti-corruption campaign go deep into the military to ferret out and rectify misconduct.
The goal is to foster an environment in which people "don't dare to, are unable to and have no desire to commit acts of corruption."
Soon after Xi launched his anti-corruption campaign, observers predicted that the governance of China would benefit in the long run as the success of the anti-corruption drive would pave the way for further reforms and would instill greater confidence in the country's long-term development.
Today facts have only proved the effectiveness of his campaign. China has eradicated absolute poverty, and the country has sailed to become a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Besides, significant progress has been achieved in judicial, economic, and tax reforms, as well as in state-owned enterprise, military, and educational reforms.
Xi's anti-corruption efforts have garnered widespread support from both Party members and ordinary citizens, indicating a growing consensus, but the battle is far from over.
At the just-concluded CCDI plenary session, Xi once again cautioned that as long as the soil for graft still exists, corrupt practices will not just go away.
In Xi's words: "our fight against corruption will never stop." ■