Stanley's blog

The media (in this case one paper) have recently exposed the activities of dozens of members of the UK Parliament in claiming expenses, in some cases fraudulently, and in other cases against the spirit of rules set by themselves. The exposure of the British parliamentary malpractices is an excellent example of what the media can do (whatever its motives for so doing). Western media have frequently exposed scandals and improprieties, eg illegalities, unsafe food, anti-environmental activities.

Corruption by provincial and local officials is a serious problem In China and frequently prevents the implementation and enforcement of legislation.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on 24 March 2009 urged tougher prevention and punishment on corruption. Localities and departments should step up supervision over corruption, regulate the use of executive power, tackle persistent problems that harm public interest and accelerate construction of a system to prevent and punish corruption to provide a solid guarantee for reform, development and stability, Wen told a conference on clean governance.

“In the past year, various departments under the State Council and local governments at all levels made marked achievements in supervising administration power and promoting the building of clean government and the work against corruption.””But corruption still occurred continually in some fields … some officials’ slack behaviour severely damaged the government’s image and relations between officials and the public,” Wen said.

He urged tougher scrutiny over projects that were closely related to people’s livelihood, such as water conservation, railroads and other forms of transportation, and urban construction.Individuals or groups should be severely punished for making defective or harmful farm products or imposing unreasonable charges on farmers, students and patients, Wen said.

In addition, he called for strict supervision of officials’ use of power to ensure that they did not use public investment projects for their personal benefit.

Wen said any construction of new government buildings, training centres and government hotels were banned between now and the end of 2010.

Reception expenditures this year should be reduced by 10% over 2008, car purchase and maintenance fees should be cut by 15% on the basis of the average amount in the recent three years, and expenditure for business trips abroad reduced by 20% based on the average amount over the recent three years.

Wen said, this year efforts will be focused on investigation and handling of corruption cases involving government organs and officials, and hard strike will be given to

“collusion between officials and businesses, power-for-money deals and commercial bribery cases.”

He urged officials to discipline themselves and “resolutely oppose bureaucratism and formalism.”

China investigated 2 687 government officials for graft, malfeasance and infringement on people’s rights in 2008. Those included four people at the province or ministry level, said Prosecutor-General Cao Jianming while recently delivering a report on the work of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) bears zero tolerance to corruption and the crackdown on it must be effectively strengthened, Hu Jintao said in his report to the 17th CPC National Congress in October 2007.

“The CPC never tolerates corruption or any other negative phenomena,” said Hu on behalf of the 16th CPC Central Committee, stressing that “resolutely punishing and effectively preventing corruption is crucial to the popular support for the Party and its survival.”

Pointing out that fighting corruption will be a protracted, complicated and arduous battle, Hu called upon Party members to carry out the campaign in a comprehensive way, addressing both its symptoms and root cause and combining punishment with prevention.

Resolutely cracking down on corruption, the Party should work harder to remove its root cause and take preventive measures through improving relevant institutions, Hu said.

Since 2002, the Party has punished a large number of high-ranking officials, including former Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu and China’s former top statistician Qiu Xiaohua.

Statistics show that more than 110 000 Party members were punished in 2005, accounting for 0.16% of all members. The number being punished dropped to some 90 000 in 2006, about 0.14% of the total members.

A tortuous process

It can be seen that the central government and CCP has a strong anti-corruption policy, but in a country the size of China, what Bejing wants and what happens in the provinces and localities are frequently not the same.

The recent exposure of the British parliamentary malpractices is a graphic example of the constructive role the press can play in the fight against corruption.

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