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Anti-corruption campaign always on the road

By Kang Bing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-17 07:36
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China's fight against corruption must maintain its intensity and not turn back, relax or show any mercy to the corrupt officials, the country's top leader declared at a meeting that evaluated last year's anti-corruption drive and prepared the road map for this year's campaign.

While all the members of China's leading anti-graft body were discussing the importance of the anti-corruption campaign at the third plenary session of the 20th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, China Central Television was telecasting an anti-corruption documentary series, exposing the details of a dozen or so corruption cases investigated last year.

The series shows how three consecutive directors of a northeastern provincial public security bureau, who headed the organ for 20 years, took bribes amounting to 1.2 billion yuan ($167 million) in total and turned the bureau from a defender to a destroyer of public security. The series also shows the senior leaders of eight bureaus of a northwestern province, as part of a clique, meeting for "a drink" while studying central discipline documents in the provincial Party school. The get-together resulted in the death of one of the officials because of excessive intake of alcohol.

These and many other examples show why the top leader said that the battle against corruption remains tough, complicated and protracted even after 10 years of intensified campaigns.

Corruption has a history as long as that of civilization. Even before the Communist Party of China assumed power, Chairman Mao Zedong wracked his brains to find the decisive factor behind the rise and fall of dynasties. In China's long history, many ruling dynasties rose and fell. Mao found that corruption was the reason for the fall of many of the dynasties, and came to the conclusion that democratic oversight was the solution to the problem of falling regimes.

China has since used Mao's solution to cleanse the bureaucracy, especially after the Party assumed power in 1949. The country intensified its anti-corruption efforts a decade ago by increasing the powers of the discipline commissions and frequently dispatching inspection groups to ministries and provincial-level regions. The first thing an inspection group does after landing at a place is to announce its e-mail address and its hotline number through the internet and other channels, and install a letter box asking people to register their complaints against corruption and wrongdoings, and corrupt officials.

The officials' reliance on people to expose corruption has paid off. Over the past year, the central discipline commission has ordered investigations against 45 high-ranking officials, the highest number in the past decade. High-ranking officials in China usually refer to officials ranked above the vice-ministerial level. At least two of them are familiar names to me; they used to be experts in their respective fields.

What surprises me is that even after 10 years of the intensified anti-corruption drive, the number of investigated senior officials, instead of declining, has been increasing. My guess is that it is not because corruption is growing; instead, it is the result of more people joining the fight against corruption and more experienced supervisors leading the fight, leaving little room for corrupt officials to escape.

The Party needs to be praised for its commitment to uproot corruption from China, and for overcoming obstacles to courageously "scrape poison off the bones". Of all the officials under investigation or having been sentenced, the majority are Party members. I don't think any other Party in the world is even half as committed as the CPC to implement self-revolution. Anyone claiming that some countries and the political parties there are free of corruption ought to have his IQ measured.

The decade-long campaign, despite its achievements, shows the fight against corruption is long. Enemies will emerge from all directions and in different disguises to challenge our determination to eradicate corruption.

Fortunately, the country's top leader seems to know these facts well, because he stressed that the anti-corruption drive will continue till corruption is eradicated from the country.

The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily.

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