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State of Exception: The Examination of Anti-Corruption Practices

Having examined the various tensions in the discourse of corruption in China in Chap. 4, in this chapter, we will examine the anti-corruption strategies, its targets and its aims adopted by the new leadership. We will examine the role of ad hoc teams dispatched by the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) to various localities to conduct discipline inspections and to investigate alleged or suspected corruption cases among local officials (Gong 2008: 145). We will also suggest that these and other juristic-like measures, such as “extra-legal power of detention incommunicado; aggressive interrogation without legal representation; a compliant legal system to rubber-stamp the Party’s decisions; and the use of harsh penalties” (Hualing 2013: 3) should be all viewed as evidence of a state of exception.

Drawing upon Agamben’s analysis, we will show that the Party has created a permanent state of exception in which Party regulations (rather than state laws) have been employed for identifying and punishing the legal, moral, economic and political enemies of the Party. As such, the anti-corruption campaign not only has a political-economic significance but also coincides with the ethical and spiritual dimensions of the China Dream discourse, by which the Party is “to reframe and reinterpret the crisis of the present, and also provide new strategies for coping with its material effects” (Marshall 2009: 9). In this sense, anti-corruption is both an effort to foster an ethical Party and to address the problems of

© The Author(s) 2017 109

S. Zhang, D. McGhee, China’s Ethical Revolution and Regaining Legitimacy, Politics and Development of Contemporary China,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-51496-3_5

institutionalization, as corruption can undermine the Party’s capacity and effectiveness in governing people, and by so doing can undermine the popularity of the Party (Holbig and Gilley 2010: 412).

In this state of exception, we will show that a deliberate politics of fear and uncertainty has been introduced for the explicit purpose of undermining the fundamental problem of corruption, namely the organizational structures that are perceived as facilitating factions. It is through this circumstance of uncertainty that we also examine how in this context the Party has adopted various disciplinary measures for the resocialization of disgraced Party members. Through these processes we will examine how coercive isomorphism in this context is intimately linked with mimic isomorphism, whereby the institutional norms of behaviour and expectations are reaffirmed.

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