Opinion / From the Press

Intensify fight against corruption

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-13 08:17

High-level officials' corrupt secretaries have become a major target of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. The battle against corruption is aimed not only at eliminating corrupt officials at all levels, but also at rooting out people and organizations associated with them, says an article in Caixin New Century Weekly. Excerpts:

People's Daily recently reprinted the full text of a speech President Xi Jinping delivered in 1990 warning that "secretaries to high-level officials are not allowed to abuse power under the name of either their superiors or facilities they work in to seek personal gains", which has drawn a lot of public attention.

In another move in the battle against corruption, Yunnan, Hebei and Shandong provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have abolished the posts of full-time secretaries to officials at the city and county levels.

One has to accept that secretaries to high-level officials, in general, do fulfill their responsibilities. In fact, many of them have grown into outstanding officials after being tempered in the post of secretary. However, some, instead of fulfilling their duties and obligations, have used their post and powers to make money on the sly, which has tarnished the image of all secretaries. Despite this, the fact remains that a majority of secretaries are honest and hard working.

The root of corruption for officials and secretaries is essentially the same: lack of supervision and little restraint on power. To eliminate corruption, we must "put power in the cage" and build a society governed by law. Given China's political tradition and today's ground realities, social reforms should focus on decentralization of power, transparency and setting up an effective accountability mechanism.

At present, many cities have been trying to streamline the secretarial system to prevent secretaries from falling prey to corruption. But implicit corruption that results from over-centralization of power cannot be eradicated only by removing the secretary's post. A modern country governed by law has to have in place a representative system for social life, with specific administrative departments enforcing the laws, and judicial organs testing the legitimacy of legislation and administrative acts, as well as punishing those who violate them. Such a comprehensive and strict power management system will prevent corruption because officials will be under constant fear of being caught and punished if they abuse power for personal gains.

The cancellation of the full-time secretary's post will prompt officials to think more about important issues and establish better communication with subordinates, which will help them to make wiser decisions. This, by all means, will be a welcome development. But insufficient supervision over power could give rise to a dangerous situation in which some officials could intensify their abuse of power.

Therefore, the best solution to the problem is to comprehensively deepen reforms. For the past year, the State Council, China's cabinet, has been advocating reforms in the administrative approval and budget system, as well as the government procurement system in order to eliminate corruption. More importantly, as the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China said, the country must "continue to make both active and prudent efforts to carry out the reform of the political structure, and make people's democracy more extensive, fuller in scope and sounder in practice".

Telling from the cases of corruption, the authorities should take immediate measures to restrain people around high-level officials who include not only their secretaries, but also their spouses, children, other relatives and friends from gaining favors. A necessary systematic arrangement to eliminate corruption practiced by people closely associated with high-ranking officials will not only boost the ongoing battle against corruption, but also deter potential corrupt officials from abusing power for personal gains.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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