Cheng says Xi is showing strength, not weakness, by going after powerful vested interests.
He says Xi's anti-graft campaign is tied to economic reform. "He wants to reduce the privileges of the state sector, to make it more competitive and innovative, and to offer a level playing field to the private sector," Cheng explained.
On the political front, however, Xi has shown little sign of loosening up.
A document, known as "Document No. 9" and distributed internally by the Communist party's central committee, warns that "Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere." These opponents, the document says, "have stirred up trouble about disclosing officials' assets, using the Internet to fight corruption, media controls and other sensitive topics, to provoke discontent with the party and government."
But with China's economy slowing, the rich-poor gap growing and social tension intensifying, analysts say Xi needs to champion initiatives that resonate with the public, such as fighting graft.
Since taking over the reins as China's paramount leader, Xi has issued warnings about how corrupt practices risk soiling the party's image and threaten national stability.
"We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people," Xi said in a speech addressing the Communist Party's top discipline body, Xinhua reported in January.
Xi has even directed the spotlight on the People's Liberation Army, where his wife Peng Liyuan serves as a senior officer. He has issued directives banning drinking and extravagant dining -- particularly among senior officers -- and called for audits of military-owned assets.
More recently, the PLA issued a directive tightening approval of gala performances by army singers and dancers. Military performers, like Peng, are now asked not to perform in privately-funded performances and casinos, and not to take part in local TV talent shows.
They are also ordered not to set up companies or studios for personal financial purposes.
While Xi may earn praise for showing his resolve in tackling corruption, it remains to be seen if he can sustain the campaign long enough to eradicate "all the rats which still roam the corridors of power" in China.