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PLA Cracks Down on Bribery
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As part of the battle against corruption the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has promised to come down hard on those involved in bribery. 

"To crack down on commercial bribery will become a major task for the army's supervision work this year and next year," the Party newspaper People's Daily reported yesterday.

It said the campaign would focus on bribery connected to the army's purchase of medical, transport and telecommunications equipment as well as infrastructure construction. The anti-bribery push would "ensure middle and senior-level officers in the army are strictly self-disciplined and incorruptible," it added.

The fight against such payments in the 2.3 million-strong PLA comes as corrupt civilian businesses have tried to bribe their way into the military procurement spending program.

"In commercial transactions, the military confronts the temptations of corruption and bribery and instances of economic laws being broken. Other abuses have been on the rise," an unidentified PLA supervisor is quoted as saying.

In recent years the PLA has sought to improve efficiency by opening some procurement spending to commercial tenders from civilian businesses particularly in sectors such as military equipment, medical supplies, telecommunications and transport.

Beijing said in March the defense budget would rise 14.7 percent to 283.8 billion yuan (US$35.5 billion) in 2006.

In June PLA units were ordered to inspect their own commercial transactions over the coming six months, reported the People's Daily. "By the end of the year, major military units will be required to report their inspection results to the PLA General Political Department and Discipline Commission which will then carry out spot checks," the report said.

The PLA supervisor admitted that tackling commercial bribery was "a complicated and arduous task that has been included as part of the army's system of punishing and preventing corruption."

The announcement came just weeks after PLA navy deputy commander Wang Shouye, 62, was dismissed by the Central Military Commission on charges of economic crimes. Wang was also expelled from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on June 29. According to documents submitted to the NPC, Wang "had abused his power to ask for and take bribes."

To battle army corruption, the Central Military Commission approved the establishment of the Leading Group for Auditing Economic Responsibility of PLA Officials last month. Led by General Liao Xilong, director of the PLA General Logistics Department, the group aims to strengthen supervision of middle and senior-level PLA officers. According to earlier reports it plans to audit about 1,000 top military officers this year.

(China Daily August 3, 2006)

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