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'Take blame and resign' more popular
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-08 10:32

The practice of "take blame and resign" is getting sporadic shoves forward as local governments like Southwest China's Sichuan Province put in place new regulations.

Experts have hailed the move as a step towards better management of officials in the country.

On November 19 last year, Sichuan's "take blame and resign" policy for government and Party officials took effect.

The regulation lists nine cases of bad management under which officials are required to resign if at fault. Those cases involve wrong decisions that lead to negative political impact or great economic losses and the breaches of duty that lead to serious accidents.

In fact, the term "take blame and resign" appears in the national stipulation on the selection and appointment of Party and government officials, which took effect in 2002.

Before that, there was a provisional stipulation on the same subject.

The stipulation simply states that an official should resign to take the blame for misplay and breach of duty that causes great losses and bad social impact or serious accidents under his jurisdiction.

Apart from that, no more details are available in the stipulation.

According to Li Jiayi, an official with the organizational department of Sichuan provincial committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), responsible for writing the new regulation, the aim is to strengthen the management of officials.

Unless they are removed from office, Chinese officials rarely step down by themselves, she said.

This regulation will put pressure on officials, force them to take responsibility and make them become self-disciplined, Li said.

She said the regulation also provides the general public and the media with criteria to supervise local officials.

Sources with the organizational department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the country's top body for official management, said the department is doing research on more details for a "take blame and resign" system at the State level.

However, they refused to give more information on the system or its progress.

Sichuan is not the only place in the country with "take blame and resign" rules.

Last December, South China's Guangdong Province enacted similar regulations which list eight cases under which officials must resign.

Other places also looking at similar rules include Shaoyang, Central China's Hunan Province and Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, according to media reports.

Wang Zhenmin, deputy dean of the Tsinghua University School of Law, said Chinese officials are usually infatuated with the power and benefits their positions bring them and do not realize that responsibility goes along with the power and benefits.

In addition, the officials always feel that they only need to hold themselves responsible for their superiors, Wang said, adding that they even think their superiors will protect them once problems occur.

That's why public criticism means little to such officials, he said.

"Chinese officials need to be aware of not only how to use their power, but also the consequences of using their power," he said.

Liu Suhua, an expert with the Party School of CPC Central Committee, considered the regulation a good step in the reform of China's official management system.

While officials sometimes live by the idea of "do nothing, nothing will go wrong, and therefore there's no need to be responsible for anything," she said, some experts argue that if there is a regulation forcing them to "take blame and resign," then the practice would not be based on the free will of officials.

And in the western world where the practice is quite common, there are indeed no regulations to that effect, they said.

But both Liu and Wang agreed that under the current situation in China, it is better to have concrete regulations because such an awareness is now far from being popular among Chinese officials.

The development of a "take blame and resign" practice will take time.

"Gradually there will be a perfect environment and Chinese officials will become accountable," she said.

Indeed the environment is shaping up in China.

"If any of the nine occasions occurred in my work, I would be willing to resign to take the blame," said Wang Fei, vice-mayor of Bazhong in Sichuan.

He said as far as he knows, most officials in the province support the regulation.

"An official should know how to be an official as well as how to become an ordinary citizen," he said.

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