Anti-graft efforts to get institutional impetus

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 15, 2013
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China's anti-graft campaign is expected to gain more momentum through institutional reforms, as the country's leadership has vowed to fight corruption resolutely, analysts have said.

A cabinet restructuring plan, adopted by the National People's Congress (NPC), or China's parliament, on Thursday said the country will establish a unified social credit code and real property registration systems, as well as improve the real-name registration system used for financial accounting.

"Establishing the systems mentioned in the plan is of great significance," said Shen Weixing, a law professor at Tsinghua University.

"For example, it will be very difficult for someone to hide the fact that they own several houses in different cities," Shen said.

"The systems are a deterrent for corrupt officials, as they will help prevent them from hiding illegal gains by using fake names or other methods," he said.

Home ownership and land rights are currently managed by multiple government departments. Before 2007, banks had some difficulties in confirming the authenticity of people's identification due to a lack of communication between the banks and local public security departments.

The plan, which aims to reduce bureaucracy and make the government more efficient, includes splitting the Ministry of Railways into two separate business and administrative units, as well as restructuring food and drug safety regulatory bodies.

Food and drug safety and railway service have been the source of numerous complaints for years, particularly in light of multiple food safety scandals and a high-speed train collision that killed 40 people in east China in July 2011.

A senior official from the NPC Standing Committee said that improving anti-graft legislation to punish and prevent corruption will be a major legislative task over the next five years.

The NPC Standing Committee will listen to and review an anti-graft report this year, as well as conduct researching concerning oversight for the government's budget and final accounts.

"The reforms and measures are concrete and substantial," said Mo Yuchuan, a professor of constitutional and administrative law at Renmin University of China.

"The anti-corruption campaign is gaining momentum and is proceeding institutionally," said Liu Xuezeng, a senior member of the China Zhigong Party, a non-communist political party.

Prosecutors have investigated about 13,000 officials at the county level or above for corruption and other duty-related crimes since 2008, including 30 officials at the ministerial level or higher, according to official data released during the ongoing annual session of the NPC.

Bo Xilai, a former member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, as well as Liu Zhijun, former minister of railways, were among the high-ranking officials investigated.

"Keeping power contained within a cage of regulations is the key to preventing graft. The role of regulatory systems should be strengthened," said Ma Huaide, vice president of the China University of Political Science and Law.

Over the past decade, China has made efforts to combat corruption and build a clean government, including amending existing laws and creating new laws, such as those pertaining to civil servants and money laundering. In 2007, China established the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention.

Legal experts and lawmakers have called for drafting a more specific anti-graft law and enhancing the independence, professionalism and authority of supervisory bodies.

"We should unwaveringly combat corruption, strengthen political integrity and establish institutions to abolish the excessive concentration of power," said a government work report presented to the NPC session.

"We should uphold democratic oversight, legal oversight and public opinion-based oversight," the report added.

"The excessive concentration of power is the root of corruption. The reform of the power structure is a precondition for combating corruption institutionally," said Li Yongzhong, an associate dean at the China Academy of Supervision and Discipline Inspection.

The Internet has become an effective platform for ordinary Chinese to expose corruption scandals over the last several years. Their efforts to investigate officials who have largely been ignored by government supervisory bodies have led to the sacking of multiple government officials.

Beijing lawyer Liu Hongyu said online anti-corruption efforts should act as a supplement to the current supervisory systems, as related legislation has yet to be created to regulate online muckraking.

"The thinking and methods for fighting corruption should keep pace with the times," said Li Dajin, an NPC deputy and lawyer.

"Research should be done to better deal with social factors that lead to corruption," said Li.

"Corruption is common globally. Anti-graft efforts should be put in a more important position," said Mo.


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