After bribery probe linked to Jack Ma's Ant Group, China needs ‘negative list'
The Communist Party of Hangzhou made a public statement about how it plans to move beyond the arrest of the city’s former party chief and how it will navigate the complex relationships between public officials and private companies. The city’s leading cadres gathered on Feb. 15 for what was described as a “warning” conference to explain how to support the party’s priorities while avoiding corruption. Zhou Jiangyong, the former party chief, was arrested this month on suspicion of taking bribes, in a case that has been linked to Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co.
Government officials should formulate “a positive and negative list” in establishing their relations with businesses, according to a statement about the conference on the website of China’s anti-corruption watchdog Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Officials should establish “clean but not distant” relations with private businesses to “support and guide standardized and healthy development of capital.”
“We should build a strong ‘ideological wall’ against corruption and degeneration. We should thoroughly eliminate the adverse impact of Zhou Jiangyong’s case and purify and repair the political ecosystem,” the statement said.
China began a sweeping crackdown on the private sector in 2020 by forcing Ant Group to pull its plans for what would have been the world’s largest initial public offering on record. The scrutiny has since expanded to many of the country’s largest companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The e-commerce giant is headquartered in Hangzhou and was also co-founded by Ma.
Earlier this year, Zhou appeared in a state media documentary that claimed the former party secretary used his influence in the Chinese tech hub to help his younger brother’s businesses. One of those companies had received investment from a firm controlled by Ma’s Ant Group, according to a local media report in August.
The Hangzhou party pressed for improved reporting of personal matters and better reporting of business relationships.
“A wrong understanding of the nature of capital will inevitably lead to the trap of ‘hunting’, illegal exercise of power will inevitably be severely punished by discipline and law,” the statement said. “A lack of strict self-discipline .. will inevitably harm ourselves, others and families.”