BEIJING, Jan 21 (AFP) — China has vowed to ramp up its regulatory crackdown and show “no mercy” against corruption as the ruling Communist Party gears up for a key meeting that could secure President Xi Jinping a third term.
The announcement suggests authorities have no plans to rein in investigations that engulfed China’s tech industry last year or an ongoing hunt for corruption that has brought down high-flying politicians and influential tycoons.
The official Xinhua news agency carried a communique from the Communist Party’s discipline watchdog late Thursday saying authorities will punish any corruption connected to “the disorderly expansion of capital” in various industries and “cut the link between power and capital”.
Beijing must “show no mercy to those who engage in political gangs, small circles and vested interests within the party,” the statement added, while warning of further investigation into corruption in the financial sector and state-owned enterprises.
Critics argue China’s anti-corruption campaign has served as a way to remove political enemies since Xi came to power in 2013.
The fresh warnings followed the Wednesday airing of a state television program that implied the involvement of tech giant Jack Ma’s Alibaba-affiliated Ant Group in a corruption scandal.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares were down nearly six percent on Friday.
The latest episode of a series on corrupt officials aired by broadcaster CCTV accused unnamed companies of paying off the brother of a former official in Hangzhou in exchange for favorable treatment.
Company records published by business database Tianyancha showed that Ant Group, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, had invested in two subway payment companies controlled by the official’s brother through Ant subsidiary Yunxin Venture Capital Management Co.
Beijing’s regulatory crackdown expanded last year to curb runaway growth in China’s powerful tech and internet sectors, and to reign in the influence of big businesses.
Ma’s e-commerce and payments empire is among the corporate giants hit by the crackdown, with officials spiking Ant’s planned IPO at the last minute in late 2020 and hitting Alibaba with a record fine for monopoly activity.
Authorities have also tightened regulations for a host of industries ranging from education to food delivery ahead of the key 20th party congress next autumn, where president Xi is widely expected to be handed a third term in office.