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China intensifies crackdown on corruption

Work reports of two judicial bodies, delivered to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on Monday, demonstrated that the anti-corruption campaign is picking up momentum.

According to the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), prosecutors last year investigated 2,871 public servants at county levels and above, including 253 at city levels and eight at provincial and ministerial levels, in 2,581 cases of graft, bribery, and embezzlement of public funds involving more than one million yuan (about 163,300 U.S. dollars).

The work report of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) shows that Chinese courts in 2013 convicted and punished 31,000 criminals in 29,000 cases of embezzlement, bribery and breach of duty, including several serious cases such as Bo Xilai and Liu Zhijun.

Bo was a former member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. Liu was former minister of railways.

Wang Yuankai, an NPC deputy from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, said the trial of Bo speaks unequivocally about China's tough stance on corruption and its upholding of rule of law: no one is above the law.

After the 18th CPC National Congress in late 2012, China launched an anti-graft campaign, which targeted both "tigers and flies", referring to high and low ranking corrupt officials.

Yin Yanli, an NPC deputy from northeast China's Jilin Province, noted in the SPP work that the number of investigated work-related crimes like embezzlement and bribery had increased. The number of investigated bribers was also higher than the previous year.

According to the report, there were 51,306 persons investigated for work-related crimes in 37,551 cases, an annual increase of 8.4 percent and 9.4 percent respectively.

In addition, a total of 5,515 bribers were prosecuted for criminal offenses, up 18.6 percent from the previous year.

Yin said the increasing numbers represent more and more people who seek private gains through power are being punished. This is a testimony to China's constant and unyielding crackdown on corruption.

According to the work report of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), discipline inspection agencies punished about 182,000 officials nationwide in 2013, 13.3 percent more than in 2012. Thirty-one high-profile officials were investigated by the CCDI itself and eight of them were handed over to prosecutors.

Moreover, China's procuratorates investigated and punished 210 prosecutors in 2013 for violating laws and regulations, as part of an ongoing campaign to "eradicate the black sheep" from among the judicial staff, according to the SPP report.

Wang said investigation of corruption cases certainly needs judicial authorities, yet the investigation could not be done without a steadfast resolve of the CPC to combat corruption.

During a CPC disciplinary watchdog meeting in January, President Xi Jinping said: "Do not let regulations become 'paper tigers' or 'scarecrows,'" and pledged intensified endeavors to hold officials accountable for wrongdoing.

Xi said every CPC official should keep in mind that all dirty hands would be caught. Senior officials should hold Party discipline in awe and stop taking chances.

Since the Chinese Lunar New Year in February, at least four ministerial-level officials have been investigated for suspected disciplinary and legal violations.

They include Ji Wenlin, former vice governor of south China's Hainan Province, and Shen Peiping, former vice governor of southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Professor Wang Yukai of the Chinese Academy of Governance said the investigation of more high-level officials starting this year again lends credibility to the CPC's anti-corruption resolve.

Moreover, it continues to bolster the notion that no one is "off-limits" in corruption fight, said the professor.

Cao Jianming, the top prosecutor, said in the work report that greater efforts would be made to improve investigation and prevention of work-related crimes.

Procuratorates will resolutely crackdown on work-related crimes among officials as well as such crimes undermining the interests of the public, Cao said in the report.

Wang Yuankai, the NPC deputy from Chongqing, said President Xi had said "power should be restricted by the cage of regulations" and he would expect the central authorities to deliver concrete measures to achieve that goal this year.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 10Mar14]

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