Graft war yields success, challenges
By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-11 07:52
The fight against corruption has been heating up, according to the work reports delivered by the country's top judge and prosecutor Monday, though the overall situation remains challenging.
In the past five years, 35 officials at the provincial or ministerial level, 930 at the city level and nearly 14,000 at or above the county level were investigated for embezzlement, bribery or misappropriation of public funds, Jia Chunwang, president of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said.
And Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said courts had dealt with 120,000 cases of embezzlement, bribery and dereliction of duty, up by about 12 percent from the previous five years.
In total, some 116,627 corruption charges were laid, up almost a third from the previous five years.
A total of 42,010 officials were investigated for dereliction of duty, leading to 16,060 convictions - 2.3 times the previous five years.
And there were nearly 20,000 commercial bribery cases involving state employees, involving 3.4 billion yuan ($478 million).
Organized crime has become a growing problem in recent years, according to the report, and collusion by officials is drawing attention.
The procuratorates' special anti-triad taskforce investigated 101 workers for acting as "protective shields" for triads in the past five years.
Premier Wen Jiabao said in his annual work report last week that the country would focus more on combating corruption and encouraging integrity.
There are improvements on tap for the prevention and punishment of corruption.
"In particular, we need to tackle the problems of excessive concentration of power and lack of checks on power," the premier said.
Jia Yu, president of Northwest University of Politics and Law, said the anti-corruption drive has helped curb the rise in graft.
"The biggest step for the Party is the new attitude toward curbing corruption, moving from punishments to a scientific, comprehensive, systematic anti-corruption mechanism combining both precautions and educational solutions," Jia said.
However, corruption cases involving ever larger sums of illicit money have made headlines over the past three years.
Shanghai's former Party chief Chen Liangyu faced charges of misusing 3.4 billion yuan of public money, and Du Shicheng, former deputy secretary of the Shandong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was arrested last April for allegedly taking huge bribes and "leading a dissolute life".
CPPCC member Wang Junfeng, of the law firm King & Wood, called for a major campaign to increase people's respect for the law.
"Only after the whole nation is enlightened about the law will we reduce corruption," he said.
He said the development of the country's market economy demands tighter oversight.
Death penalty review
Xiao also noted that capital punishment has been "strictly, cautiously and fairly" meted out to a tiny number of serious criminal offenders in China.
The Supreme People's Court last year took back the power to review death penalty cases from provincial courts after 26 years of decentralization.
"The transition has been smooth and orderly and trials of death sentence cases normal," he said.
"The SPC has been working to ensure that capital punishment only applies to the small number of felons who commit extremely serious, atrocious crimes that have grave social consequences."
The presiding judge of the SPC's First Criminal Law Court, Huang Ermei, recently told media that the highest court rejected 15 percent of all death sentences since the beginning of last year. Reasons ranged from unclear facts, lack of evidence and procedural faults.