Fight against 'rampant corruption' stepped up

By Zhao Huanxin
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, March 6, 2011
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The government again demonstrated its strong resolve to combat corruption on Saturday, vowing to end excessive concentrations of power and saying that supervision and transparency will be enhanced.

In his government work report delivered on Saturday, Premier Wen Jiabao admitted that "rampant corruption" had flared in some areas and prescribed counter-measures to meet the "ardent hope" of the people.

"We must make mechanisms for decision-making, enforcement and oversight check one another and function in concert," he said while describing the tasks and goals of the coming five years.

"We must make institutional changes to end the excessive concentration of power and the lack of checks on that power."

With Liu Zhijun having been removed from the post of minister of railways less than a month ago because of an alleged "severe violation of discipline", calls for a crackdown on corruption have been resounding across cyberspace as well as among lawmakers and political advisers.

Xia Ji'en, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said on Saturday: "The people detest corruption, which has somehow discredited the government among the people."

Shen Zhongqun, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said fighting corruption was the key to "making people happier".

"'Making people happier' was often heard in the media in recent days. As far as I know, most people are now not hostile to the nouveau riche, but to the corrupt," Shen said.

For 2011, Wen promised the government will "act more quickly" to solve serious problems in combating corruption and will promote clean government, an important measure of which will be to deal with major corruption cases.

Last year, four ministerial-level officials, including Zhang Jingli, former deputy chief of the State Food and Drug Administration, were the subject of graft probes or were removed from their positions. Another 11 were sentenced to life imprisonment or handed other severe punishments.

In 2011, the authorities will "conscientiously" handle problems related to government employees who abuse power, neglect their duties, or who infringe upon others' rights, Wen said.

Anti-corruption efforts will be intensified in key areas, such as the construction industry, the sale of land use rights, exploitation of mineral resources, the trading of State-owed property rights and government procurement, he said.

"We will implement a system whereby leading cadres will regularly report their incomes, real estate and investments, as well as what their spouses and children do and whether they live abroad," he said.

The premier proposed zero growth in government agencies' budgets for travel abroad, the purchase and operation of vehicles and entertainment.

"We will strengthen auditing and supervision ... and release government budgets more quickly to keep people informed about how much the government spends and what it spends money on," he said.

Minister of Supervision Ma Wen said the initiative that asks officials to declare their assets will proceed this year. There will also be a credit management mechanism based on residents' identity cards.

Regarding "naked officials" - those whose family members have moved abroad - Ma said contact will be established with spouses and children to prevent corrupt officials fleeing the country.

Ren Jianming, a professor with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said the key was making public expenditure transparent.

Zhou Yan contributed to this story.

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