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When Party chief Xi Jinping stressed at a top anti-graft meeting his intention to place power in a "cage of regulations," he laid the basis for following efforts to build a clean and efficient government, says an article in Beijing News. Excerpts:
At the second plenary session of the Party's discipline watchdog, Xi pointed out that a mechanism needs to be established to deter officials from corruption and prevent it.
In fact, a close-to-people, low-key and economical style has already been seen in Xi's recent activities, like no traffic control, welcoming banners or red carpets in his inspection tours; regular hotels and rooms; and simple dinners, with four dishes and a soup. These practices by Xi and other top leaders show that the central government will not let "thrifty" be an empty slogan.
Meanwhile, common people have noticed a top-down frugality extension to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions in provinces and municipalities. For example, Beijing's two sessions this year have had no flowers, and offered no wine and fewer dishes to NPC delegates and CPPCC members.
To be frank, frugality is a basic value for modern political ethnics, let alone the worrying fact that China's Gini coefficient in 2012 has reached an alarming high of 0.474.
A fundamental reason why corruption in some places becomes rampant is that there is no constraint, supervision and balancing force against local leaders' power. On this point, the exercise of frugality needs to put power in a cage.
And this cage should mean improvements and more detailed fiscal budgets, so that the purpose of every bit of taxpayers' money should be spelled out; vague expenses used in the past, like "office operations" or "project operations", should be denied. This "cage of regulations" also means that efforts should be made to step up the publicizing of government budgets to the public and inviting public supervision.
The hope for this cage cannot be pinned only on officials' moral consciences, as many people in power would be unwilling to let the power in their hands be caged and restrained. Therefore, the public and media's participation and supervision is indispensable.