China's Communist Party committee in charge of stamping out rampant official corruption has issued a directive aimed at bringing more anti-graft probes under its direct control. But Chinese academics told RFA's Mandarin service that only supervision by the general public through a free press will succeed in tackling the country's notorious corruption problem.

China's Central Discipline Inspection Commission issued an order last week in which it stated it would take over the direct running of discipline inspection units at municipal, provincial, and ministerial levels.

"The move is a significant measure to improve the Party's discipline inspection mechanism and enhance the Party's internal supervision," Wu Guanzheng, secretary of the Commission, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying at a recent conference in the southern island province of Hainan.

"Agencies should make intensified efforts to supervise leading officials in a bid to prevent power abuse, mistakes in decision-making, and breach of duty," said Wu, who vowed last year to set up an efficient and systematic anti-graft mechanism within the next few years.

He also called on leading officials at various levels to consciously put themselves under supervision and do a good job in building a clean government and fighting against corruption.

Chinese political analysts said the move was a step in the right direction, but that real change would come about only with more fundamental changes in China's political system.

"This is in some sense an improvement [but] if you make a policy from the top down, which the general public doesn't even know about and the Party follows as a matter of course, then it's fundamentally undemocratic," Beijing Foreign Studies University professor and Beijing People's Congress representative Wu Qing told RFA.

Independent political analyst Wang Lixiong, who is based in Beijing, agreed that ultimately only a more democratic system could stamp out China's multi-billion dollar graft problem.

"There are many precedents of the central government overseeing local officials in China's history. Such a measure, though used by many emperors in ancient Chinese dynasties, never turned a single feudal emperor system into an incorruptible system,� Wang said.

�The key to eradicating corruption is democratization and a change in the source of power. The source of power should be from the bottom up, not the top down. Many overseeing one, instead of one overseeing many as the current authoritative, feudal system has it. How is a single emperor going to keep an eye on all those ministers?�

�The bottom-up [system] would train many pairs of eyes on one person. So it's democratization plus press freedom, etc. Only this way can they stamp out corruption."

The official People's Daily newspaper estimated recently that U.S. $30 billion a year disappears from state coffers in China through the actions of fraudulent officials. Another estimate by a Chinese scholar put the amount at U.S.$157 billion over three years. #####


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