Punishments reflect resolve to fight graft

(China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2006-10-24 06:30

More than 67,500 officials have been punished for corruption in the past three years, a senior official of the Supreme People's Procuratorate said Monday.

"The figures show that we are determined to root out corruption," said Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general, citing official figures from January 2003 to August 2006.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) is greeted by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, after his speech at the opening of the first annual conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities in Beijing October 22, 2006. [Reuters]
Wang made the remarks while addressing about 1,000 representatives from international anti-corruption bodies at a five-day Beijing conference that started on Sunday.

Top prosecutor Jia Chunwang told the First Annual Conference and General Meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities yesterday: "The Supreme People's Procuratorate is willing to co-operate with other countries in the fight against corruption."

He added there is a welcome trend for anti-corruption authorities around the globe to join hands in fighting graft; and that his office had signed 83 anti-graft memorandums with 75 law enforcement departments around the world.

At the opening ceremony on Sunday, President Hu Jintao emphasized that China is fully committed to fighting corruption.

"We see the fight against corruption a top priority, a pressing task that has great influence on the overall development of the country, and which affects the fundamental interests of the people, equality, justice, social harmony and stability," Hu said.

Hu's words came amid the spiralling Shanghai social security fund scandal which brought down Chen Liangyu, then the Party secretary of Shanghai and a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Chen is the highest ranking official to fall in corruption probes in the past decade.

In the first eight months of this year alone, more than 17,505 corrupt officials were prosecuted and punished, according to government figures. Chinese procuratorates each year probe nearly 40,000 alleged corruption cases.

Analysts said international co-operation is crucial for China, which is trying to net dozens of crooked officials who fled overseas ahead of, or during, investigations.

Police records show that 500 people suspected of serious economic crimes, mostly corrupt officials, live at large in other countries. The money involved adds up to a staggering 70 billion yuan (US$8.75 billion).

Wang said Chinese law enforcement officials, with the help of other countries, had nabbed and brought back 70 corrupt officials from abroad.

China does not have bilateral extradition treaties with most Western developed countries, but the United Nations Convention against Corruption can be a major help, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of UN Office On Drugs and Crime, told China Daily yesterday.

"I am very optimistic about that," Costa said, noting that the lack of bilateral agreements should not be a hindrance for extradition.