China / Hot Issues

Swat the 'flies' dead while caging the 'big tigers'

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-17 07:32

Swat the 'flies' dead while caging the 'big tigers'
Discipline inspection authorities found 120 million yuan ($19.5 million) in cash and 37 kilograms of gold at the home of Ma Chaoqun, a former general manager of the State-owned water company in Beidaihe district in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.  Provided to China Daily

Do you think a fly is less threatening than a tiger? That could be true, if we are talking about creatures in nature and not Chinese bureaucrats.

In China, many "flies", political jargon for corrupt low-ranking officials, have grown bigger than the tigers by feeding on illicit funds.

A former official in charge of the water supply in Beidaihe district in Hebei province was reported last week to have stashed away 120 million yuan ($19.5 million) in cash and 37 kilograms of gold. If that cash were all in 100 yuan notes, it would weigh 1.38 metric tons.

Ma Chaoqun, a former general manager of the State-owned water company in Beidaihe, Qinhuangdao, also had 68 real estate deeds at his house, according to local discipline inspection authorities.

Local authorities suspect that Ma's wealth was the proceeds of bribery.

On Oct 31, prosecuting authorities announced they had seized more than 200 million yuan in cash from the house of Wei Pengyuan, a deputy director of the National Energy Administration's coal department. It was the largest amount seized since the founding of new China in 1949.

"Low-level officials obtaining huge wealth" is a common problem in many areas from Shaanxi province in the northwest to the eastern coastal city of Shanghai, according to recent findings of 13 investigative teams from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The teams oversaw investigations into officials in 10 provincial regions and several government agencies from July to October and found that "fly-style corruption" has become an increasingly serious issue.

Hebei discipline inspection authorities said that some local low-level officials have seized power and privileges by controlling scarce resources like water, land and educational facilities, or by monopolizing industries such as electricity, gas and medical care.

They have "absolute power" in certain places or industries and are faced with various temptations, local authorities said.

Zhang Sining, a researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said the lack of constraint on such power is to blame. Zhang stressed that a supervisory system must be established to regulate officials' behavior and leave no room for corruption.

President Xi Jinping, who launched the national anti-graft battle, vowed to go after both "tigers" (corrupt high-ranking officials) and "flies", and constrain political power within a "cage of regulations".

The public is witnessing the caging of more big "tigers", including former senior CPC leader Zhou Yongkang and former senior army general Xu Caihou.

However, Gao Bo, a politics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the numerous "flies" had not been given enough attention and were being underestimated.

Grassroots officials are close to the people, and their malfeasance is seen by the people and seriously impairs the government's image, Gao said.



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