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Authorities Reminded to Follow Rules
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The disciplinary watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) warned local authorities on Tuesday to rigorously observe rules on assessing work performance in the ongoing nationwide leadership reshuffle, in a bid to prevent the promotion of corrupt officials.

"Concrete measures should be taken in line with the rules to ensure job performance assessments are real, and to prevent corrupt officials from being appointed or promoted to higher positions," said Xia Zanzhong, deputy-secretary of the CPC Central Commission of Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Some Party and government officials who have committed serious crimes such as embezzlement and bribery are able to continue their political rise before being caught.

A recent example was Hu Xing, former deputy director of the Yunnan Provincial Transport Department, who was arrested in February for taking more than 40 million yuan (US$5.2 million) in bribes and keeping a mistress.

Prosecution documents claim he received over 50,000 yuan (US$6,500) in bribes as far back as 1995, when he was working for the city planning section of Kunming City, capital of Yunnan Province.

China has been going through nationwide party leadership elections and reshuffles at the provincial, municipal, county and township levels since last year in anticipation of the CPC National Congress.

The CCDI and the CPC Organization Department have issued a circular, asking all local party committees to crack down on irregularities in the selection of new leaders and make sure that those elected are qualified.

The CPC also vowed to improve supervision of the elections and said those involved in unlawful activities, especially buying or selling official posts, will be seriously punished.

Those who fail to fulfill their supervisory duties during the elections and whose negligence lead to corruption and the promotion of wrong people will also be held accountable.

The CCDI and CPC Organization Department jointly held a press conference in July last year to announce that eight CPC officials had been punished, some with long jail terms, for buying or selling government jobs. The move was seen as a move to deter similar corrupt practices in elections.

Xia said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that, in order to ensure clean and honest administration of the Party and government, a series of new reform measures are in the pipeline:

-- Government departments will be relieved of some administrative authority, especially in granting business or other permits. More government affairs and operations are to come under public scrutiny, especially those concerning the public interest;

-- Government bodies will be requested to strictly separate expenditure from income to avoid conflicts of interests;

-- More people's jurors and supervisors from outside the judiciary should be installed at legal proceedings to ensure trials are open and fair.

In an effort to build a clean government, the State Council issued a 55-article regulation two weeks ago, warning officials against a variety of wrongdoings and misconduct.

Government officials in China risk the sack if they use their influence to benefit a lover or become involved in other forms of corrupt behavior, according to the regulation, the first of its kind to systematically stipulate administrative punishments of civil servants for abuse of power.

The regulations also state that those who organize "superstitious gatherings", use drugs, engage in the sex trade or fail to fulfill their duties can be demoted or fired.

Xia said China is making "active efforts" to set up a state-level corruption prevention institution, which aims to stem graft at its source.

He said setting up the institution would bolster China's fight against corruption and help promote the country's efforts to expand international anti-graft cooperation.

But Xia neglected to say when the institution will start operation and how it would collaborate with the CCDI or other judicial departments.

According to CCDI statistics, 97,260 of the CPC's 70 million members were punished for corruption in 2006. The punishments extended to prosecution for 3,530 officials, seven of whom were at or above the level of minister or governor.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2007)

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