China / Politics

Reaffirm China's resolve to fight corruption

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-27 00:45

The National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions in early March should be a time to reaffirm China's resolve to fight corruption.

Many China watchers in the United States have been encouraged by the positive signs they have seen since the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Reaffirm China's resolve to fight corruption

More than 20 senior officials at ministerial and provincial levels have so far been brought to justice for corruption charges, plus countless ones at lower levels, proving President Xi Jinping's vow that the anti-corruption campaign will fight both “tigers and flies”, referring to senior and low-level officials.

The new leadership has made it clear from the beginning that rampant corruption has been ruining the Party and nation. And given that it has been the top public concern for years, it's not surprising that the crackdown has been embraced by the people.

The many new measures introduced since the 18th CPC Congress, such as the Eight-Point Code of Conduct restricting officials from extravagant behavior, have amazed many in the US who question whether their own government leaders and Congressmen could honor such rules.

But such discipline has already changed Chinese officials' behavior, as witnessed by the declining business in high-end restaurants and entertainment venues once patronized by government expense accounts.

For China watchers, the corruption fight has also showed that the new leadership does not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Yet victory is not a done deal. Strong vested interest will resist hard when the campaign escalates in the coming years.

In this sense, the upcoming sessions are a time to garner even more public support for continuing the fight against corruption.

Some China watchers have suggested that rule of law, not political campaign, should be the right approach to address the corruption issue. After all, rule of law is an essential part of the Chinese Dream.

In this regard, the deputies to the NPC have a special role to play in making laws and more importantly in making sure these laws are strictly enforced at every level.

Serious official corruption will be a huge stumbling block for the new leadership to make progress in other sectors, such as carrying out the ambitious economic reforms that will let the market play a bigger role.

The announcements of financial reforms and the experiment of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone have given much hope that the economy will move into a higher level of development. And 1.3 billion Chinese and the rest of the world stand to benefit from such reforms.

Fighting corruption will also be vital for ensuring the success of social reforms such as narrowing the wide gap between the rich and poor in society and protecting the rights of the underprivileged.

China may not have been the worst when Transparency International ranked it 80 out of 177 countries and regions in its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, but its corruption score of 40 still slid below the 50 that points to serious corruption.

It means no letup on the anti-graft fight because it will be a make-or-break for the Chinese Dream. People both in and outside China are watching.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

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