Opinion / Editorials

Uphill battle must not be lost

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-06 07:27

If preventing power from being abused is of importance to governing according to the law, what the central inspection teams do is speeding up the realization of this goal by finding out how power is abused and how serious the problem is.

The second round of such inspections, which concluded recently, has found that abuse of power is still rampant in the 10 regions inspected, plus the General Administration of Sport, Chinese Academy of Sciences and China FAW Group Corporation.

The inspections found that abuse of power by top leaders at all levels is one of the most prominent problems. There is not only a large number of cases involving leading officials at various levels, which are detrimental to the reputation of the Party and government and to the carriage of justice and fairness. But the number of top leaders caught taking bribes and embezzling public money is on the rise.

Rent-seeking through abuse of power is characteristic of the different forms of corruption practiced by leaders. They trade power with business people for personal gain or just sell official positions to lower level officials for money. Nepotism is also rife.

The message is that many officials still assume that they will be able to get away with abusing their power no matter how severe the campaign against corruption is. In their mind's eye, the campaign will not last long and neither will it be possible to sweep all corners clean.

What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that the environment for corruption has always been there. Corrupt officials can always take bribes, embezzle public money and trade official positions for money at any time they want.

Severe penalties may act as a deterrent for a time, but not forever. Abuse of power will persist once officials feel it safe again unless institutions are in place to monitor and supervise the exercise of power.

It is only with the real rule of law that all the institutional loopholes can be possibly plugged as institutional arrangement based on rule of law will place power within what President Xi Jinping calls a cage of laws.

Yet, what the inspection teams have found out suggests that building this cage will be a long-term and uphill battle. But as the head of Party discipline watchdog Wang Qishan says, it is a battle the Party cannot afford to lose.

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