BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- One former member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) politburo standing committee; one ex-military chief; one vice chairman of China's top political advisory body; a handful of vice governors; and some 30 other ministerial officials.
Some 600 days into its anti-corruption crusade, the new Chinese leadership led by Xi Jinping has managed to expose a long list of fraudulent officials, be it low-ranking "flies" or high-ranking "tigers." The campaign has been so successful that it has become a hallmark of Xi's administration in public eyes.
But the true legacy Xi and his colleagues may leave for the world's second-largest economy could lie elsewhere.
"Graft busting may be the most prominent feature of Xi's administration. But what really defines the new leadership is still reform," said Dai Yanjun, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
China embarked on a reform and opening-up drive in the command of late leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978, and reform has remained a key theme of the country's development ever since.
Last November, Xi Jinping unveiled a detailed roadmap to "comprehensively deepen reforms" at the third plenum of the CPC Central Committee.
The general objective of the reform is to improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize state governance. Xi also vowed to allow market forces to play a more decisive role in distributing resources, promoting social equity and improving public well-being.
"In a way, the new leadership led by Xi Jinping is carrying the torch passed on by Deng, only pushing forward reforms in a more concrete and detailed fashion," said Dai.
Xi's campaign is so ambitious that overseas observers had questioned whether it was practicable, since the overhaul inevitably touches on vested interests in order to make the necessary changes.
"As China's reforms enter a critical stage and a deep water zone, the country is faced with hard nuts to crack," according to Dai. "Unlike 30 years ago, the current reforms focus not only on how to make the cake bigger, but also on how to share it."
Ding Yuanzhu, professor with the National School of Administration, echoed that opinion, adding that a key task of the current reforms is adjustment of the distribution of interests.
"Of course it is going to be harder than before," he said.
Yet both Dai and Ding agreed that the Chinese leadership's resolve for reforms is not to be underestimated.
Nearly two years after Xi took the helm of the CPC, China is fully immersed in perhaps its boldest set of economic and social reforms ever.
A decisive role for the market, equality between rural and urban residents, relaxation of the one-child policy, judicial independence and the closure of forced labor camps are just a few of the milestones already passed along the way. All were regarded as stormy seas that must be traversed before new engines could propel the huge ship onward.
"Seldom has any country in the world introduced so many major policy reforms in such a short period of time as we did over the past year," said Ding Yuanzhu.
"Of course, it could take a while for the reform plans to translate into concrete implementation and for the benefits of the reforms to kick in," he said. "But the fact that we have incorporated evaluations of the reform process means we are serious about it."
According to the professor, the ongoing war on corruption also helped pave the way for deepening reforms, in that it has proved the leadership's determination for change. On one hand, the CPC's pursuit of major figures previously considered untouchable, including Zhou Yongkang, is a crucial part of the big picture.
On the other hand, Ding said, the anti-graft campaign has helped clear obstacles to reforms, by felling corrupt officials who stand in the way of change.
And likewise, the deepening of reforms meanwhile helps stem corruption, by building a cage of regulations, and by letting the market, not government officials, play a decisive role in distributing resources.
Dai said the upcoming fourth plenum of the CPC Central Committee, which will focus on the rule of law, will also contribute much to reform.
"For a long time, our reforms have been focused on the economic sphere, and we have indeed accomplished a lot in that area. But one has to admit that problems remain in terms of our governance system and the rule of law," he said, adding that these problems threaten to seriously impede China's development and reforms without timely solutions.
He said China must learn from its past reforms, optimize its regulations and focus on the rule of law, as only then can it ensure that "society remains orderly and thrives during such profound changes."