I have to give Beijing credit. When the Chinese leaders put Wang Qishan in charge of the anti-corruption effort, they knew what they were doing. Widely believed to be one of the most competent of the new leadership, he has ensured that no policy arena has as much energy behind it as his anti-corruption campaign. Other priorities such as building a social welfare net, protecting the environment, and reforming the economy are still in the familiar planning and blueprint stages. Wang, in contrast, has spearheaded campaigns against multinationals, Chinese companies, individual Chinese officials, and businesspeople. Scarcely a week goes by when one corruption case or another does not make Chinese headlines.
Alongside the anti-corruption campaign, a crackdown against Chinese netizens is also in full-swing. Nominally designed to limit online rumor-mongering—people may be charged with defamation if their rumors are read by 5,000 users or forwarded more than 500 times—the crackdown has landed squarely on the shoulders of some of China’s most popular, politically outspoken businessmen bloggers: venture capitalist Wang Gongquan has been detained on charges of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in public places”; Chinese-American investor Charles Xue was arrested on prostitution charges; and billionaire real estate investor Pan Shiyi has not been arrested or detained but appeared on television to say that it was important for those with large followings to “tweet responsibly.” Each of these prominent business personalities has boasted well over a million Weibo followers at one time or another.