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Former Vice Justice Minister Liu Zhiqiang Under Investigation: Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Drive Intensifies

Observers monitoring China’s anti-corruption campaign under President Xi Jinping’s leadership were surprised by recent news indicating that the campaign is far from reaching its peak. China’s former Vice Justice Minister Liu Zhiqiang, who previously served on Interpol’s committee, is now under investigation, shedding light on the ongoing efforts to root out corruption within the country.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) recently released a statement on its website, revealing that Liu, aged 60, is “undergoing disciplinary review and supervisory investigation” for “suspected serious violations of discipline and law,” a term often used as a euphemism for corruption. Liu held the position of vice-minister at the Ministry of Justice from January 2016 to June 2023.

This investigation into Liu comes amid President Xi Jinping’s intensified crackdown on China’s security and law enforcement apparatus, described as “turning the blade inward.” Over the past eleven years, hundreds of senior officials, including those at ministerial levels, have been brought down as part of Xi’s signature anti-corruption campaign.

The surge in anti-corruption efforts is evident from the numbers. Last year, the CCDI launched investigations against forty-five senior officials, indicating a trend towards heightened scrutiny. This surge follows previous years, with investigations steadily increasing since 2020. Notably, investigations into high-ranking officials have been on the rise, with CCDI probing individuals holding deputy ministerial positions or above.

Liu’s investigation closely follows that of Tang Yijun, China’s former justice minister (2020-2023), who was placed under investigation in May 2024. Additionally, Liu’s tenure overlapped with Fu Zhenghua, a former justice minister (2018-2020), who was charged with corruption in 2021 and subsequently jailed for life in 2022. These cases underscore the depth and breadth of Xi’s anti-corruption efforts.

Liu’s career trajectory, as reported by the South China Morning Post, provides insights into his background and positions held within the police and foreign affairs bureaus. His diverse experiences spanned over three decades, including roles in international cooperation and provincial governance before returning to the Ministry of Justice in 2016.

President Xi’s focus on cleansing China’s bureaucracy extends to key sectors such as finance, with nearly 200 investigations initiated in the past five years. This intensified scrutiny underscores Xi’s commitment to ensuring clean governance and policy implementation.

Despite the challenges posed by corruption within the Chinese military, efforts to address misconduct are evident, with numerous high-ranking officers targeted in recent years. The removal of generals and top commanders within the PLA Rocket Force reflects ongoing efforts to uphold integrity and accountability within the military.

As China’s anti-corruption campaign continues to unfold, questions arise regarding the extent of its expansion and the individuals implicated. With dismissals of prominent figures like foreign and defence ministers, it remains to be seen how far-reaching the campaign will be and whether any challenges to President Xi’s authority will emerge.

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