China's new paramount leader, Xi Jinping, is making the fight against corruption his No. 1 mission.
In several speeches since he took over the reins of the Communist Party last November, he has warned that corruption could lead to "the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state."
Xi sees corruption as a threat to the party's legitimacy.
He exhorted fellow leaders to learn from the experience of other countries where "corruption has played a big role in conflicts that grew over lengthy periods, and ... led to popular discontent, social unrest and the overthrow of the political power."
He did not mention names, but clearly he was referring to Libya, Egypt and other authoritarian and corrupt regimes that have been overthrown in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions.
Xi urged officials to "build a clean government, show self-discipline and restrain their relatives and associates."
Chosen to lead the cleanup is Wang Qishan, 64, who until recently was China's economic-finance czar and now is chief of the Party's anti-corruption body.
Wang, also known as a "firefighter," is a no-nonsense, blunt-talking administrator and has been a go-to trouble shooter.
In the 1990s, he was sent to Guangdong to clean up the "debt crisis" in the southern province.
Years later, he was dispatched to Hainan province to curb rampant smuggling and corruption.
In 2003, he was called to Beijing to replace the city mayor accused of covering up the SARS crisis, the massive pandemic that spread across China and beyond.
Wang's political skills will be put to test in his new job.
Corruption has long been a major public complaint, and there is certainly no shortage of cases.
In the past five years, China has punished 668,400 people for "Party discipline violations" and more than 24,600 suspects have been referred for investigation, according to China Daily.
There are various ways to acquire ill-gotten wealth and just as many to hide them.
Some spirit millions of cash out of the country.
Others stash them in luxury villas, expensive jewelries and accessories -- or business ventures by relatives and associates.
Still others blow their loot enjoying sybaritic lifestyles, lavishing wealth on mistresses or simply gambling it away in casinos.
Disgraced politicians include:
- A lowly bureaucrat who despite a modest salary has been found to be wearing expensive-looking watches on various occasions. Internet watchdogs have dubbed him "Brother Watch."
- A senior official now known as "Uncle House" who was found by government officials to own 21 houses despite being on a meager income.
- A district Communist Party chief in Chongqing, who was fired after being caught on video having sex with a young woman who was alleged to be a prostitute.
- The former chief of China Railway Container Transport, who was sacked and accused of receiving bribes of 47 million yuan ($7.5 million) between 2005 and 2010.
- The Sichuan provincial deputy secretary who was removed for alleged "serious discipline violations," the most senior official to have fallen since the new leaders took over in November.
To be sure, China has been making efforts to crack down on graft.