Mr Xi has also been engaged in a fierce campaign against corruption, which has spread fear throughout the bureaucracy; his rivals have been among its most prominent victims (the most recent, Ling Jihua, who once served as Mr Hu’s aide, was sentenced to life imprisonment in July). In all, 177 people with deputy-ministerial rank or above have been investigated as part of the crackdown since Mr Xi took over in 2012. He has had over 50 generals arrested for graft and promoted his own men in their place, says Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington, DC.The reform effort stalled because Xi and Li weren't authoritarian enough. From 2014:
Even so, Mr Xi’s authority remains hemmed in. True, his position at the highest level looks secure. But among the next layer of the elite, he has surprisingly few backers. Victor Shih of the University of California, San Diego, has tracked the various job-related and personal connections between the 205 full members of the party’s Central Committee, which embodies the broader elite. The body rubber-stamps Mr Xi’s decisions (there have been no recent rumours of open dissent within it). But the president needs enthusiastic support, as well as just a show of hands, to get his policies—such as badly needed economic reforms—implemented. According to Mr Shih, the president’s faction accounts for just 6% of the group. That does not help.
...Next year the party will appoint a new Central Committee at its regular five-yearly congress, which will probably take place in October. This time not only will Mr Xi be in charge of the process, he will also have more places than usual to fill. Normally 40-60 full members retire every five years when they reach the committee’s retirement age of 65 (the age for the Politburo is 68). Assuming the retirement ages do not change, 85 committee members will leave in 2017. Seven more have been purged for corruption, bringing to 92 the total number of places Mr Xi will have available to fill. At Beidaihe this summer, the elite is thought to have had its first look at the new line-up.
According to mainland media reports, Li chaired at least two cabinet meetings over the past two weeks to focus on ways to streamline and delegate government regulatory powers.Maybe things will change in the next couple of years, with many retirements at the provincial level as well.
At one meeting, on May 30, Li reportedly pounded the table as he blasted local officials for inertia in carrying out central government directives.
He accused departments of micromanaging the economy and wasting time and resources examining and approving projects and deals that were entirely commercial matters unrelated to national security or strategic industries.
Li vowed to do whatever it took to keep his promise to remove and delegate more than 200 administrative approval procedures by year's end.
......The ambitious reform drive, trumpeted by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li, is now entering a stalemate even before the real battle against vested interests and state-sector monopolies has barely begun.