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Conviction of 8 'big tigers' heralds prolonged anti-graft fight

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-02 09:15

BEIJING -- Eight provincial and ministerial officials were sentenced to terms of up to life in prison for graft Wednesday, which highlights China's sweeping fight against corruption is far from ending.

Among the convicted, four officials were found guilty of accepting bribes worth over 100 million yuan ($14.7 million).

They are Liu Zhigeng, former vice governor of Guangdong Province, Wang Baoan, former head of the National Bureau of Statistics, Lu Ziyue, former mayor of Ningbo in Zhejiang province, and Chen Xuefeng, a former provincial-level official in Henan province.

The sentences came after the execution of Zhao Liping, a former senior political advisor in northern China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, last week for intentional homicide, taking bribes and possession of firearms.

Dai Yanjun, from the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said that the convictions of these eight "big tigers" are a sign of a prolonged anti-graft campaign.

"These cases serve as warnings that the fight against corruption remains fierce and complicated although it has gained crushing momentum," Dai said.

After taking office in late 2012, the current CPC leadership has declared a crackdown on graft and identified the need to guarantee that officials dare not, cannot and do not want to be corrupt.

This anti-graft "trilogy" has nailed down a route from the initial shock of ousting corrupt officials to perfecting the anti-graft regulations and mechanism to ensure a long-term effect.

China's court system concluded 45,000 graft cases implicating 63,000 people in 2016, with 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefectural level, convicted, according to the work report of the Supreme People's Court.

"These cases have won the CPC time to treat the root causes of corruption," said Dai.

The verdicts on these senior officials were meted out prior to the 19th CPC National Congress, at which a new CPC central committee and a new anti-graft body will be elected.

"It shows the fight against corruption will not weaken and the zero-tolerance policy will not change, thus dismissing speculation that the anti-graft fight would come to an end as the current leadership is to end its tenure," Dai said.

Creating a tighter and more extensive net against corruption, the graft watchdog has been busy hunting "foxes," corrupt officials suspected of economic crimes hiding abroad, as well as the crackdown on corrupt officials from low-level "flies" to high-ranking "tigers."

More than 1,000 fugitives were returned from abroad in 2016, including China's most wanted graft fugitive Yang Xiuzhu.

Wang Yukai, with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the "crushing momentum" is a landmark in the battle against graft.

"The next step will focus on preventing corruption cases from emerging by strengthening supervision on corrupt officials," Wang said.

Apart from improving and tightening disciplinary regulations within the CPC, China is on track to establish a national supervision system which will oversee all public servants.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee, the top legislature, approved a pilot reform program last year to establish an integrated supervision system that will see the establishment of local supervisory commissions at three levels -- province, city and county.

Supervisory commissions have been set up in Beijing Municipality and the provinces of Shanxi and Zhejiang, as the initial step toward establishing a national supervisory commission.

Besides supervising the performance, integrity and ethical conduct of civil servants, the commission will also investigate and punish anyone implicated in corruption or other job-related offenses. Any serious cases will be transferred to procuratorates for criminal investigation.

"It is an arduous task to reduce existing corruption and contain any rise in corruption because there is still space for corruption to evolve," Dai noted. "Any let-up in the intensity of anti-graft fight could spoil everything that has been achieved."

"The fight against corruption has no end, it will always continue," he said.

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