The State Council on Thursday appointed the head of National Corruption Prevention Bureau, a brand new and first ever anti-corruption agency.
Ma Wen, the newly appointed Minister of Supervision, was appointed head of the bureau, with Qu Wanxiang, Vice Minister of Supervision, as the deputy head, according to a press release issued by the State Council.
Few detail is available about the establishment of the bureau in the press release.
"I have no idea of how the bureau will function. But personally I think this would be a tough job, even tougher than investigating a high-profile official involved in corruption scandal," said Prof. Ren Jianmin, from the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University.
One of the important jobs to prevent corruption is to reform the supervision system on officials and develop new anti-corruption policies, he said.
Some of these reforms will face resistance as they might harm interests of some powerful people, he said.
The news of setting up such a new anti-corruption agency was first released by Gan Yisheng, spokesman for the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), early this year.
At the annual session of National People's Congress this March, another CCDI senior official Xia Zanzhong also confirmed that the establishment of the bureau has been approved and the framework of personnel been set.
As one of the efforts to curb corrupt officials, the new agency is expected to play an effective role in corruption prevention, Gan said at a press conference in February.
The proposed bureau will follow effective practices seen overseas, he said.
According to Gan, the new agency will set up units at local level once the headquarters is established.
"China sets up such a high-powered national corruption prevention body as one of the efforts to apply the United Nations Convention against Corruption," Ren said.
It was also driven by domestic need to curb corruption in government departments.
According to CCDI, 97,260 officials were disciplined last year, more than 80 percent of whom had failed to carry out duties, taken bribes or violated the party's financial rules.
Several high-profile officials had fallen in corruption scandals, including the former head of the food and drug administration and former party head of China's economic hub Shanghai.
"We can't count on punishment only. It will take effect for some time but did not touch the root of corruption. We need to enhance the preventive measures," said Yan Qunli, a CCDI official in charge of anti-corruption publicity and education programs.
China's policies to prevent corruption used to focus on moral education of government and party officials but in recent years a series of rules and regulations were issued to deal with systemic loopholes, covering administrative approvals, financial management, official promotion and penalty on corrupted officials.
The CCDI also kept working out policies against "new forms of corruption" trying to catch as many corrupted officials as possible.
Four months ago it has issued a regulation covering several new fields of bribery like taking stocks and shares as gifts, buying houses or cars at ridiculously low prices from those who ask them for favors, laundering bribes by gambling and asking bribers to arrange jobs after retirement.
(Xinhua News Agency September 7, 2007)