The 90-year war against corruption

By Chen Xia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 28, 2016
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In March 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) convened a national meeting, in which Mao Zedong, then the top leader of the Party, warned those members who "cannot withstand sugar-coated bullets" of "being defeated by" those bullets. He was referring to corruption, a problem that has plagued the Party since its founding.

In 1926, a 5-year-old CPC issued its first regulation on corruption. In 1927, it set up a special organ to monitor the behavior of Party members. In a campaign launched in 1932, 42 corrupt Party members were punished, with 2,053 silver dollars, 135 kilograms of cotton and four gold rings confiscated.

After the People's Republic was founded in 1949, the CPC has been even vigilant about eliminating corruption. In the early 1950s, Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan, two senior officials who contributed to the founding, were sentenced to death for taking bribes. Later, two anti-corruption campaigns were carried out and a regulation on the penalty for corruption was issued.

But some scholars criticized these efforts, saying a lack of rules and too much dependence on public reports resulted in prolonging the anti-corruption campaign. After China began to reform and open its economy in 1978, the country made a new start on social and economic development. The errors it made during the previous 10 years were gradually corrected.

But now, with the country becoming richer, some officials have started to abuse their power again to seek economic privileges, posing new challenges to fight corruption. The top leadership of the CPC is aware of this problem. Since 1993, it has taken a series of measures to tackle corruption. For example, it introduced several reforms in the administrative systems, such as implementing a review and approval process for projects, appointing officials and introducing fiscal management in departments, so as to enhance restrictions and supervision over the use of power. It also launched campaigns among its organizations at all levels to make their works transparent to the public.

Corruption has its root in the society. As China transitions from a planned economy to a market one, political checks have fallen behind social development, says Li Yongzhong, vice president of the Discipline Inspection Academy. To some extent, the struggle against corruption still depends on the self-control of officials, leaving them more prone to corruption.

In recent years, to tackle corruption at the source, the CPC has put more emphasis on inner-Party supervision and regulations on power use. To cope with the changing society, it is working on an anti-corruption system with equal emphasis on punishment and prevention to keep the Party progressive and incorruptible.

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