Longtime China observers, however, point to the limits of Xi's war on corruption.

"Corruption is so widespread and so endemic that campaigns are just not going to do it," said Frank Ching, a Hong Kong-based commentator and columnist on Chinese politics. "Something has to be done about the system."

"There have been public calls for a law to require officials disclosing their assets. There has been no indication that they are going to do that. In fact, a number of people calling for this law have ended up in prison," Ching said. "I think people will be much more convinced of the seriousness of this anti-corruption campaign if there were a move to enact such a law."