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More efforts pledged to fight corruption
Updated: 2005-03-09 17:27

China has intensified efforts to weed out corrupt activities in varied forms and plans even tighter control in this regard, as shown in court and procuratorate work reports delivered Wednesday to the third annual session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature.

In his report, Jia Chunwang, procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate, confirmed 11 officials at provincial or ministerial level were investigated for corruption charges in China last year.

They were among the 2,960 officials at or above county level probed on charges of corruption, taking bribes and misuse of public funds last year, said Jia.

While the procuratorates did their utmost to dig for the hiddengraft, the country's court system gave jail terms to six provincial and ministerial officials on similar charges, noted Xiao Yang, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme People'sCourt, in a separate report to the NPC annual session Wednesday morning.

The convicted government workers, including Tian Fengshan, former minister of Land and Resources, Liu Fangren, former secretary of CPC (Communist Party of China) Guizhou Provincial Committee, and Zhang Guoguang, former deputy secretary of CPC Hubei Provincial Committee and governor of the province, were given penalties ranging from life imprisonment, to 11 and 12 yearsbehind bars, according to previous reports.

According to the Chief Justice, the court system, in total, penalized 772 corruption officials and dealt with 24,184 cases involving government officials' graft, bribe-taking and other corruption activities in 2004.

As an ever larger Chinese population enjoy the fruits of the reform drive, grumbles about miscellaneous corruption, particularly government officials' misbehavior, gradually become acynosural factor likely to disrupt China's smooth ride on its development path, analysts here said.

According to an on-line survey conducted on www.xinhuanet.com concerning the topics likely to spark heated discussions before this year's NPC and CPPCC (Chinese People's Political ConsultativeConference), a quarter of the nearly 200,000 respondents sorted out "putting an end to corruption" as a great concern, ranking second among the 20 listed choices.

The Chinese leadership has demonstrated great concern about varied forms of corruption.

"Corruption damages the interests of the people and the close links between the Party and the people, weakens the governance base and capability of the Party, affects social stability and disturbs the general situation of reform, development and stability," said Wen at a recent State Council meeting.

To assuage discontent with the behind-the-curtain trading, the central authorities have made a range of moves to curb corruption and boost popular confidence in government during recent years.

In last year's NPC session, Wen vowed to take high-handed measures against graft in his government work report, evoking a noticeably long and stormy applause from the 2000-strong lawmakers.The central authorities have tried utmost to live up to the anti-graft promises.

Last year, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection(CCDI) handled a caseload of 166,705 crimes and punished 170,850 misbehaved CPC members, including 16 provincial and ministerial officials and 432 at or above prefecture level, according to a meeting on clean government held in February.

A total of 345 procurators, 461 judges and 681 revenuers were also punished for graft charges in the same period, largely helping create an unprecedented gun-shy environment for possible corruption activities.

In addition to a consistently tight control on corruption, increasing attention was heeded to fix flaws in the power system and root out corruption at an early stage, largely rated as "the biggest achievement" in recent anti-corruption campaign and widelyexpected to shed more light on further moves in this regard.

"Severity of corruption could not be simply ascribed to low moral standards of the corrupt officials but also loopholes in administrative mechanism," said Li Peilin, deputy director of the Sociology Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

In a high-profile effort to curb corruption, the Communist Party of China (CPC) released a guideline in December 2004, vowingto "build and improve a system to punish and prevent corruption through promoting education, in strict compliance with regulationsand supervision".

To tackle the problem that an increasing number of corrupt government officials and state-owned enterprises' leaders fled abroad with huge sum of money, CCDI started to document these people's travel plans and daily expense as well as their relatives' job applications and destinations of overseas study in several pilot locations since July 2004.

The move was dubbed as "a modus operandi" for Chinese fugitive officials and expected to generate "more steps" to follow.

Jia noted in his Wednesday's report that 614 major official-turned suspects, who had absconded abroad, were seized last year, some of whom fled with a large sum of money.

Though the Chinese government has not disclosed the total number of corrupt Chinese officials who had fled overseas with huge sums of money, Jia confirmed previously China brought back 596 fugitive officials from overseas in 2003.

In a separate endeavor to crack down on gambling, special attention was paid to civil servants who squandered public money in casinos located in neighboring countries.

Cai Haowen, an former official from Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeast China's Jilin Province, was found to defalcate 2.76 million yuan (332,530 US dollars) from his department and borrow another 750,000 yuan (90,360 US dollars) from companies under his supervision from January to November in 2004.

He made 27 trips to a neighboring country and squandered all the money in a local casino before absconding on Nov. 19 last year.The gambler was caught last month on a train.

To further help the country's battle against corruption, NPC deputy Zhou Hongyu proposed an anti-corruption law be enacted as soon as possible.

"A specific law on anti-corruption and an independent anti-graft network that reports directly to the parliament will constitute a legal basis for China's fight against corruption," said Zhou, from central China's Hubei Province, also suggesting independent auditing and self reporting systems be set up to keep civil servants from corruption.

"The anti-corruption fight is still an arduous task," said Premier Wen Jiabao in his government work report on March 5.

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