How China’s Massive Corruption Crackdown Snares Entrepreneurs Across The Country
By Emily Feng
04 March 2021
LULIANG, China — The meteoric rise of aluminum executive Zhang Zhixiong transformed his rural Chinese hamlet into a lucrative mining community. But his fall from grace was even more dramatic.
In March 2018, he and 10 others were sentenced to harsh prison terms for supposedly forming a criminal organization and illegal mining, among other crimes. Zhang, chairman of Juxin Mining Co., was accused of being a crime boss and received a 25-year prison sentence. He denies the charges.
Chinese state media branded him “an evil leader disguised in red clothes” — a kingpin pretending to be an upright communist citizen — and a high-profile target in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
President Xi Jinping launched the campaign in 2018 with the slogan “Saohei chu’e,” meaning “sweep away black and eliminate evil.” After three years, the initiative concluded last year. China’s legislature, which is convening this week, will likely hail the campaign as a smashing success: nearly 40,000 supposed criminal cells and corrupt companies busted, and more than 50,000 Communist Party and government officials punished for abetting them, according to official statistics. Now Beijing is signaling it will continue elements of the campaign.