It looks like China is conducting a purge of the disfavored sectors of its ruling class. China functions in roughly the same way as a traditional royalist/feudal society. An absolute monarch, Xi Jinping, is the head of state, and occasionally offs royal ministers, aristocrats, capitalists, or clerics that threaten the power of the throne. If China executed everyone guilty of “bribery” or “corruption” they would have to do a Jonestown-like massacre/mass suicide.
China condemned the former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co. to death on charges of taking bribes, one of the most severe sentences to stem from President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.
Lai Xiaomin, who was chairman of Huarong before he came under investigation in 2018, was also found guilty of corruption as well as bigamy, according to the court of Tianjin City. He received 1.79 billion yuan ($277 million) in bribes between 2008 and 2018 and all his personal assets will be confiscated, the ruling said.
Capital punishment is unusual for corruption in China, though a former vice mayor in the Shanxi province was sentenced to death in 2018. The move underscores the ruling Communist Party’s increasingly tough stance on corruption among government cadres and corporate executives, which has seen more than 1.5 million government officials punished. In 2016, China raised the threshold for capital punishment related to corruption to 3 million yuan from 100,000 yuan, but the penalty has seldom been used.
Mo Shaoping, a Beijing-based lawyer, said it’s rare that bribery cases result in the death penalty with many ending up being reprieved to life in prison. But in this case “the amount of corruption is particularly huge, likely the biggest in recent years,” Mo said. “The case has also sparked public outrage. Under the current environment, a death sentence is definitely sending a warning — and mostly importantly — shattering the belief that corruption isn’t punishable by death.”