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China upgrades anti-corruption fight

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-14 09:56

China's top insurance regulator was put under investigation Sunday as the country steps up efforts to curb corruption in the financial sector.

Xiang Junbo, chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), was being investigated for suspected serious violation of the Party's code of conduct, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The latest move indicated that China's anti-graft fight has not abated.

The investigation of Xiang came shortly after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's March 21 speech at a State Council meeting on clean governance, in which he vowed to harshly crack down on financial corruption, as the world's second largest economy is deepening reforms in pursuit of steady economic growth.

Violations and corruption in the financial sector are not uncommon as the sector is vulnerable to risks, including bad assets, bond defaults, shadow banking and illegal Internet financing.

Between January 2014 and June 2015, Chinese prosecutors investigated 877 people in the financial sector for bribery or abuse of power, according the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The investigated officials included Zhang Yujun, assistant chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, who was removed from office for "severe disciplinary violations" amid wild swings in China's stock markets in 2015.

In order to deal with disorder in the financial sector, CPC officials should keep high alert on financial risks and take powerful measures to deal with corruption in the sector, advance financial regulatory reform and improve internal supervision in financial institutions.

The country should crack down on bank violations in giving credit, insider trading in security market and fraud by insurance companies, as well as punish internal supervisors and company managers who collude with big players in the market.

China's anti-graft drive has gained "crushing momentum", with corrupt officials from low-level "flies" to high-ranking "tigers" being ousted since the current leadership took office in late 2012, declaring a tough graft crackdown.

In 2016, 415,000 officials were punished for violating the Party's code of conduct and 11,000 others in suspicion of crimes were transferred to judicial organs.

Besides the crackdown on "tigers" and "flies," the graft watchdog has been busy hunting "foxes," or corrupt officials suspected of economic crimes hiding abroad. More than 1,000 fugitives were returned from abroad in 2016.

Despite the investigation and prosecution of hundreds of officials, China's commitment to fighting corruption is showing no signs of letting up.

The crackdown is a long-lasting fight. There are no quick or easy fixes. More must be done to root out this scourge that threatens the Party's very survival. 

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