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China, BRI nations to unite against corruption

By ZHANG YANGFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-10 08:42
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Chinese supervisory bodies will continue to crack down on corruption and cooperate closely with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative as well as international organizations to create a clean business environment, a top official from the National Supervisory Commission said on Tuesday.

Yang Xiaodu, chairman of the commission, made the remarks during a keynote speech at the Conference on Integrity in COVID Response and Economic Recovery by the Belt and Road Cooperation Partners in Beijing.

Representatives from 22 countries and international organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kenya, participated via video link in the conference, which was hosted by the National Supervisory Commission.

Yang said global anti-corruption work faces new challenges created by COVID-19 and global changes. At this critical time, China must adhere to concepts that will ensure officials "dare not, cannot and will not commit corruption" and make sure that all anti-epidemic funds and materials are used to control the disease, treat patients and save lives, he said.

China will also stick to the principles of consultation and joint construction with other countries while combating transnational business bribery in a bid to create a regulated business environment under the rule of law.

Further, China will uphold multilateralism, support the authority of the United Nations in global anti-corruption governance and contribute to practical action against graft, he said, adding that the commission will provide the UNODC with $900,000 as a voluntary contribution to push forward bilateral practical anti-corruption cooperation.

Ghada Waly, executive director of the UNODC, said the office welcomed the contribution, which is very important in providing tailor-made technical assistance to countries involved in the BRI.

Waly said the conference has a significant meaning as many countries have introduced economic recovery programs and promoted vaccine research and development. During such efforts, there are some risks of corruption, making fighting against corruption an imminent task during COVID-19 control and prevention.

She said the UNODC acknowledged China's initiative to build a clean Silk Road Economic Belt and looked forward to cooperating with China to offer BRI members more support in terms of technical assistance and capacity building.

Kennedy Gastorn, secretary-general of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, said China has done a great job fighting corruption. It hosted the first Belt and Road legal cooperation search and training project last year and held seminars for BRI countries. In October last year, the National Supervisory Commission also signed a memorandum with the UNODC on cooperation in combating corruption, he said, calling all these measures very important.

Gastorn said many BRI countries may still lack the ability to effectively recover assets and prevent corruption, making strengthening cooperation key in achieving a cleaner Silk Road, which also serves as a prerequisite for the BRI to gain international credibility.

As the world economy is recovering from the aftermath of COVID-19, the BRI has more potential to produce infrastructure projects and promote economic growth, he said, adding that in addition to promoting sustainable development, anti-corruption cooperation also needs to be listed on the agenda.

Anti-corruption work in COVID-19 control and prevention is one of the key jobs being carried out by China's supervisory bodies this year as corruption could undermine medical response, alter the use of urgently needed materials and could lead to loss of life.

According to the National Supervisory Commission, supervisory bodies across the country have formed more than 50,000 teams that have conducted field inspections at medical institutions, transport stations and factories, focusing on the implementation of COVID-19 control measures, treatment of patients and medical supplies production.

They also give priority to handling COVID-related complaints and strictly investigate violations of discipline and law, such as duty negligence, fraud, embezzlement or false claims related to medical funds and materials.

All conference participants have agreed to strengthen cooperation and exchanges on anti-corruption measures. Wedo Atto, deputy commissioner of the Ethiopian Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, said Ethiopia and China are all-around strategic partners. Amid the pandemic, countries should give more attention to international cooperation to prevent corruption from causing more damage than ever, Atto said.

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