Nestled quietly near a bustling street northwest of Tian'anmen Square, the glittering modern skyscraper reveals little of what happens inside.
Surrounded by ivy-covered high walls there is little traffic to and from the building; and only the serious-looking guards at the gate hint at its importance.
But that mystique was slightly shattered yesterday as the Party's top graft-buster lifted its veil to the outside world.
More than 30 foreign journalists made their very first tour of the solemn office buildings of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
Cameras clicked furiously and video started to roll once they stood on the marble-floor lobby of the 15-story building.
"We received many requests from foreign journalists to visit the government and Party departments," said Guo Weimin, director of the State Council Information Office's press bureau. "So we organized this tour."
As reporters thronged the corridor and peered into neat rooms catching the staff by surprise, the accompanying CCDI officials were bombarded with questions.
"Is this the place where you interrogate corrupt officials?"
Answer: Some of them have been "invited to have a talk".
"Do you feel shorthanded considering you investigate some big cases?
Answer: No, not all cases break at the same time. So there are enough officials to handle matters.
"How do you get clues about corruption?"
Answer: We have a tip-off system and also send out inspection teams.
Chi Yaoyun, deputy director of the CCDI's general office, said that the tour was a demonstration that more and more government and Party organizations are becoming transparent and more open in their administrative affairs.
"This is what we have been promoting," he said.
Besides the routine press releases handed out to the media, the CCDI is considering convening more press conferences from time to time or regularly which will also open to foreign media, Chi said.
With the downfall of a slew of corrupt officials - some high ranking - in recent years, a series of crackdowns by the CCDI is gaining increasing attention from the outside.
Responding to a question on how rampant corruption is in the country, Chi said that the number of cases is actually declining.
"We can't deny that corruption exists in some areas and to some extent," Chi said.
"But China's firm stance in fighting corruption cannot be doubted," he said, citing the arrests of some senior officials including former Shanghai Party secretary Chen Liangyu last year.
Chi said the government wants to focus on prevention as much as punishment, citing the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention set up last week as a major step in that direction.
The visiting journalists wrapped up their short visit at the archive room, expecting more such trips.
"It is very rare for Party organizations to open to the media," said Shiozawa Eiichi, a journalist with Japan's Kyodo News Agency. "We hope to see more of this in the future."
(China Daily September 21, 2007)