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Corruption still a serious problem in some areas
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The Chinese government will strengthen its efforts to promote clean government and combat corruption, Premier Wen Jiabao said in a speech at a parliament session Thursday.

Wen admitted in his government work report "corruption remains a serious problem in some localities, departments and areas."

China will focus on standardizing institutions and limiting the exercise of power, and prevent and punish corruption at its source in areas and links prone to corruption, Wen said at the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), or parliament.

"We will resolutely investigate and prosecute corruption cases and punish corruptionists in accordance with the law," the premier told the lawmakers and political advisors present at the meeting.

Just five days before the NPC session started, Mi Fengjun, a senior legislator in China's northeastern Jilin Province, was dismissed from the national legislature for taking bribes.

A total of 4,960 Chinese officials above the county level were punished for corruption in a year ending November 2008, according to the latest data from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.

To fight corruption, one of the major tasks is to build a pragmatic, clean and efficient government to win the trust of the people, Wen said.

The Chinese government kicked off a 4-trillion yuan (about 585.5 billion U.S.dollars) stimulus plan last November to buoy the economy. It included 1.18 trillion yuan from the central government.

The government has also listed 10 industries for special support, ranging from textile, steel, automobile to logistics.

Worrying about possible misuse of the hefty investment or corruption related to it, some people have requested the release of details on the massive spending.

"Some local governments have begun to vie for new projects in order to get the biggest share of the investment package," said Jiang Hong, professor of the Public Economy and Management School under the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Jiang said what he worried about most is whether these projects are under oversight.

The professor agreed to what Premier Wen said in the government work report: we will ensure they (the new projects) will receive proper oversight.

Wen has pledged "we will prohibit image projects that waste both human and financial resources and vanity projects that are divorced from reality, and will never allow any organization or individual to exploit the surge in public spending for private gain."

To Jiang, it is crucial to work out related supervision polices as quickly as possible.

"The central government has made it clear that the people have the right to inquire the whereabouts of the 4-trillion-yuan fund, and all local governments should do the same and provide the list of spending in an opener and more transparent way," said the professor.

"They (local governments) should make public how the money has been used," said Jiang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who is now here attending the annual session of the organization.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2009)

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