Opinion / Editorials

Cage power to reduce abuse

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-26 07:50

Even with a number of vice-minister-level officials and a vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference placed under investigation for abuse of power in recent weeks, and Liu Tienan, former director of the National Energy Administration, sued by prosecutors, the anti-graft campaign will continue with the same momentum until officials have the awareness they need to toe the line when it comes to the exercising of their power.

Every corrupt official has his or her own way of accumulating illicit wealth, but one thing they have in common is the fact that nearly all of them have corrupted their way up the ladder.

Liu Tienan, for example, took advantage of his various positions as the heads of different sections to take bribes and abuse power. But this never stood in the way of his promotion. The same is true of his corrupt counterparts.

The lack of effective supervision over those officials who have absolute say over the approval of industrial or other projects is the institutional loophole these cases have exposed.

Despite the requirements that such approval should have a procedure to make sure that it is adopted through collective decisions, it is always the individual in the key position who has the final say.

Another loophole that these cases have revealed is the lack of a strict and effective examination procedure for the promotion of officials, as what counts in the end is the decision by higher-level leaders.

Many officials would not have so many chances for rent seeking if there was effective supervision over their exercising of power. Many corrupt officials would not have made their way up the hierarchy were there a procedure for the strict auditing and examination of candidates for promotion.

The anti-graft campaign, which will continue to dig out and punish the corrupt elements, will undoubtedly act as a deterrent, and officials will think twice now before they accept bribes.

But the opportunities for the abuse of power are still there, and those willing to abuse their power will do so if they believe that there are less chances of being caught.

As top leader Xi Jinping said, power should be put into a cage. Besides efforts to uncover corrupt officials, in order to build such a cage, efforts are needed in the supervision over approval and the procedure for promotion.

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