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What’s behind China’s graft crackdown?

It's the China story of the day and it's causing quite a stir: reports that authorities have seized up to $14.5 billion worth of assets from those connected to the former security chief embroiled in a graft scandal.

Whether the development is a sign that Beijing is stepping up its fight against corruption at the highest level or reflects a clamp down on those who might be opposed to the government's reform agenda remains to be seen, analysts say.

Read MoreChina seizes $14.5 billion assets from former leader

According to a Reuters report at the weekend, Zhou Yongkang, the retired domestic head of security, is at the center of China's biggest corruption scandal in six decades. In addition to the asset seizures, more than 300 of Zhou's relatives, political allies and staff have been questioned over the past four months, two sources told Reuters.

"It is difficult to differentiate between a reform agenda attacking corruption and a political agenda attacking people you don't like," said Bank of Singapore Chief Economist Richard Jerram. "From a distance it is difficult to judge which of these are taking place."

Read MorePursuing graft cases, Chinese leader risks unsettling elites

China's President Xi Jinping has made it clear that the government will not tolerate corruption regardless of rank. Last year, Bo Xilai, a former member of the Politburo, a key decision-making body of the Communist party, was found guilty of accepting bribes, embezzling state money and abusing his power and sentenced to life in prison.

"What we've seen so far is that Xi Jinping has gone after people who might be roadblocks to the reform process," said Freya Beamish, an economist at Lombard Street Research in Hong Kong.

Analysts say recent policy documents from the government on corruption put more emphasis on supervision and enforcement.

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