Eleven officials at provincial or ministerial level were investigated for corruption charges in China last year, said Jia Chunwang, procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate, in Beijing Wednesday.
The officials include Tian Fengshan, former minister of Land and Resources, Liu Fangren, former secretary of CPC (Communist Party of China) Guizhou Provincial Committee, and Zhang Guoguang, former deputy secretary of CPC Hubei Provincial Committee and governor of the province.
They were among the 2,960 officials at or above county level probed on charges of corruption, taking bribes and misuse of public funds last year, said Jia.
While the procuratorates did their utmost to dig for the hidden graft, the country's court system gave jail terms to six provincial and ministerial officials on similar charges, noted Xiao Yang, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme People's Court, in a separate report to the NPC (National People's Congress) session, in Beijing Wednesday morning.
Their penalties range from life imprisonment, to 11 and 12 years behind bars, according to previous reports.
According to the Chief Justice, the court system, in total, penalized 772 corrupt officials and dealt with 24,184 cases involving government officials' graft, bribe-taking and other corrupt activities in 2004.
Meanwhile, 614 major official-turned suspects, who had absconded abroad, were seized, and some of them fled with a large sum of money, said Jia.
As an ever larger Chinese population enjoys the fruits of the reform drive, grumbles about miscellaneous corruption, particularly government officials' misbehavior, gradually become a cynosural factor likely to disrupt China's smooth ride on its development path.
According to an on-line survey conducted on www.xinhuanet.com concerning the topics likely to spark heated discussions before this year's sessions of NPC and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a quarter of the nearly 200,000 respondents sorted out "putting an end to corruption" as a great concern, ranking second among the 20 listed choices.
The Chinese leadership also demonstrated great concern about varied forms of corruption.
"Corruption damages the interests of the people and the close links between the Party and the people, weakens the governance base and capability of the Party, affects social stability and disturbs the general situation of reform, development and stability," said Wen at a recent State Council meeting.
To assuage discontent with the behind-the-curtain trading, the central authorities have made a range of moves to curb corruption and boost popular confidence in government during recent years.
In last year's NPC session, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to take high-handed measures against graft in his government work report, evoking a noticeably long and stormy applause from the 2000-strong lawmakers.
The central authorities have tried utmost to live up to the anti-graft promises.
Last year, the CPC discipline watchdog handled a caseload of 166,705 crimes and punished 170,850 misbehaved CPC members, including 16 provincial and ministerial officials and 432 at or above prefecture level, according to a meeting on clean government held in February.
A total of 345 procurators, 461 judges and 681 revenuers were also punished for graft charges in the same period, largely helping create an unprecedented gun-shy environment for possible corrupt activities.
To curb corruption from spreading further, the CPC Central Committee recently issued an outline for the establishment of an anti-corruption work mechanism that serves to punish and prevent corrupt activities by CPC members.
According to a schedule set by the outline, a basic framework for the mechanism should be installed by 2010 and a long-term education system, power-operation supervision system and a mechanism-based anti-corruption system will be completed later.
(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2005)