China’s extensive crackdown on government corruption, which has already ensnared hundreds of thousands of officials in the People’s Republic, is now spilling over the country’s borders. The State Department recently confirmed that China’s legal authorities had provided a list of 150 corrupt Chinese officials believed to be hiding in the United States, and vowed cooperation to help extradite them. That announcement came amid rumors that China’s anti-corruption czar, Wang Qishan, would visit the U.S. sometime this year, ostensibly to lead the chase overseas to catch China’s government crooks and their ill-gotten gains.
No one is immune, not even Communist Party leaders who once seemed untouchable. Just last Friday, Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief and retired Politburo Standing Committee member, became the highest-ranking party official to be indicted under the effort, following his arrest last December. Top military officials have come under investigation, and there are rumors a former vice president could be next. According to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the government body spearheading the campaign, since Xi Jinping took leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in late 2012, 414,000 officials have been disciplined by the party for corruption, and 201,600 prosecuted for the infraction in court. In Shanxi, one of the most corrupt provinces, some 15,450 officials were convicted of corruption last year, an increase of 30 percent over 2013. State propaganda refers to the strategy as “killing tigers and swatting flies,” where the tigers are the powerful and the flies the petty officials.