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Tougher tactics for war on corruption
( 2004-01-13 00:47) (China Daily)

In the annals of China's ongoing fight against corruption, the year 2003 left an impressively heavy stroke.

Over the past year, 13 officials at the provincial and ministerial level were disciplined for corruption. Some received legal punishment and some are still under investigation.

Former Vice-Governor of Anhui Province Wang Huaizhong was handed a death sentence at his first trial. The final result is pending after his appeal.

A strong, clear signal was sent that this time the Party and the government really mean what they say.

It's not just a story of numbers. Increasingly, it's about approach. In dealing with wrong-doers in high positions, there has been a series of new initiatives to establish systematic guarantees for the fight against corruption.

In spite of all the rhetoric and campaigns over the years, corruption remains high on the list of public concerns. It erodes public confidence in the government and poisons its relationship with the people.

In perfect harmony with their "men of the people'' approach, the country's new leadership started their term with an iron determination to eliminate the malicious tumor of corruption.

The fall of the 13 in senior positions was merely the opening move in a deeper and more expansive crusade against malpractice in Party and government offices.

In the past, emphasis was placed on preaching lofty ideology to Party and government officials. It can never be denied that such moral education played an important role in strengthening their sense of self-discipline and inspiring them to work wholeheartedly for the people. That practice should be maintained as part of the Party's fine tradition.

But a well-functioning system serves as the ultimate deterent to power abuse. Cases of corrupt officials pinpoint the absence of efficient supervision mechanisms.

The supervision of power, especially on chief Party and government officials, has proved to be weak. Many of the now disgraced officials were not subject to any supervision at all before they fell deeper into their criminal habits.

Weeding out corruption requires an efficient system that puts power under stringent supervision.

What is encouraging is that a shift in emphasis to systemic improvements has already be sensed.

The Central Discipline Inspection Commission, the Party's top anti-corruption body, has stressed on many occasions that system building should join ideological education, Party discipline and nation's laws as essential weapons in the war on corruption.

Initial steps have already been taken in this regard. The most significant is the pending implementation of a regulation on inner Party supervision.

Insiders disclose that after the three-day high-profile meeting of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission, which started yesterday and will feature Party General Secretary Hu Jintao delivering a keynote speech, the highly expected code will be signed into action.

Reports leaked to the media indicate the regulation will install a set of comprehensive power supervision measures, and it is already being hailed as a milestone in the Party's promotion of democracy.

The painful efforts of the past year paid off. The 2003 poll indicated the public approval rate of anti-corruption work for the first time exceeded half (51.9 per cent), compared to 32.8 per cent in 1996.

That figure suggests increasingly stronger public confidence and support for the anti-corruption work.

And even with a rockier road head, there is ground for optimism given the latest developments.

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