Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Long-term anti-corruption

By Lin Zhe (China Daily) Updated: 2013-11-06 07:07

Bearing this in mind, it is clear that relying on local anti-corruption staff is far from enough, as it is hardly possible for them to investigate their colleagues, never mind their superiors. Worse, those tasked with finding corruption can themselves be bought. It is not uncommon for anti-corruption staff to be involved in the corruption cases of influential local leaders.

The central inspection teams are totally independent of the local societies and their members are carefully selected to make sure they have no personal relations with the officials being inspected. They are also well-supported by the Central Committee of the Party, which has granted them ample power to supervise suspected officials without intervention from their colleagues or superiors. These inspection teams can hold interviews with officials, accept complaints from ordinary citizens and officials alike, and copy any materials that they consider important. Thus they have sufficient power and autonomy to ensure they can crisply and neatly deal with situations that often appear messy or obscure to their local colleagues.

However, the central inspection teams do not mean the local anti-corruption system is no longer important - the two are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive. Actually, the central inspection teams often do their work through interviews, in which help from local anti-corruption staff is central to the investigation.

Like all mechanisms of its kind, the inspection team system is far from perfect. However, it is an open system and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has been amending its regulations to plug any loopholes detected. For example, the inspection teams have adopted a new practice of publicizing a permanent mailing address, so that even when inspections end the people still have a way to complain against corruption.

According to the latest information, the Third Plenary Session is expected to amend the inspection regulations again, possibly placing more emphasis on investigating the leaders of State-owned Enterprises and improving the selection process for members of the inspection team. These are welcome moves; but more needs to be done to build a long-term anti-corruption system. The most urgent task is drawing an anti-corruption law to regulate all the measures against corruption; on that basis we could consider other systems like stricter supervision of public spending, challenge systems and disclosure of officials' assets. There are high hopes that the plenary session will mark a start toward a comprehensive anti-corruption system.

The author is a professor of human studies at the Central Party School. This is an excerpt of her interview with China Daily's Zhang Zhouxiang.

(China Daily 11/06/2013 page9)

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