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China is cracking down on crime. Here 104 Chinese telecom fraud suspects are escorted by the police at Xianyang International Airport in January 2018. Photo: Zhao Bin/Hua Shang Daily/VCG via Getty Images

The Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council issued a joint notice (中共中央 国务院发出《关于开展扫黑除恶专项斗争的通知》) announcing the launch of a "dedicated struggle" to root out organized crime and the corrupt local officials who protect them, Xinhua reports.

My thought bubble: China has had these campaigns before, but the use of the word "struggle" in the notice likely indicates this time will be much more expansive and harsh.

What the notice says: "China will begin a new campaign against organized crime to ensure social stability and consolidate the foundation of the Party's governance. ... The fight will focus on industries and fields prone to gang crimes and organized crimes that prompt the 'strongest public reaction' and are 'detested' by the people..."

More news: According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a closed-door meeting with the party's top graft watchdog. Per SCMP:

"Xi issued a stark warning over collusion between triads and officials, especially the protectors of mafia-style organizations, which he said had threatened the party’s rule..."
"A source with knowledge of the campaign said Xi attached great importance to the push, which took aim at middle and lower-level cadres. 'It’s not just a usual campaign; it’s been deemed as a fight that the party must win.' he said."

The big picture: Organized crime is a real problem but the main goals of this effort look to be further consolidation of political power and party image improvement among the citizens.

  • Local officials (known as "flies" in contrast to the senior officials who are "tigers") have historically resisted fully implementing central government policies and engaged in visible corruption that has generated significant friction with citizens.
  • Most PRC citizens never meet a "tiger" in their lifetime but have to deal with the "flies" almost every day.

Follow the money: The official announcement also notes that fines can be levied and assets confiscated. Do not be surprised if this "struggle" is also used to shore up the parlous finances of many local governments.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”