Graft 'Spot Checks' Launched

China's Communist Party moves to fight corruption to bolster its legitimacy.
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Visitors at an anti-corruption exhibition in Hangzhou, eastern China's Zhejiang province, Oct 8, 2011.
Visitors at an anti-corruption exhibition in Hangzhou, eastern China's Zhejiang province, Oct 8, 2011.
EyePress News

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has announced a series of spot checks on its high-ranking officials in a bid to combat corruption, while a top official in southern Guangzhou city has vowed to declare his assets amid calls for more transparency.

The checks would include verification of individual officials' sources of income, the assets held by their family members, and their immigration status in foreign countries, Hong Kong's Party-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper said on Thursday.

The decision was taken at the second plenary meeting of the Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in Beijing on Wednesday, and comes as the new Party leadership under president-in-waiting Xi Jinping seeks to send a clear signal on graft, the paper said.

Veteran journalist Zan Aizong said Xi's anti-corruption speech after he was chosen as the Party's general secretary at the 18th Congress in November marked the launch of an anti-corruption campaign nationwide.

"From the point of view of the Communist Party, it can't get any further with reforms, so the only thing it has left to bolster its legitimacy in government is the fight against corruption," Zan said.

"This is also an urgent demand from the general public."

Powerful backing

But Zan said that anyone who was pursued for graft would likely be selected for the proposed "spot" checks because they lacked powerful enough backing higher up in the Party, not because they were a genuinely random selection.

"Those without backing will definitely be sacrificed," he said. "But those who have backing will also be worried."

Many officials were now looking to get out to a Western country where the rule of law is fairly robust, and beyond the reach of the Chinese legal system, he said.

"One by one, they are getting out," Zan said.

Reports of corrupt officials have continued to surface online.

Last week, netizens reacted angrily to reports that a municipal level official from the northern province of Shanxi, Zhang Yan, had managed to obtain household registration documents in Beijing and Shanxi, an option that would be impossible, though highly desirable, for ordinary Chinese seeking to move into urban areas to find work without losing their entitlement to public services.

Some officials appear to be trying to maneuver to stay ahead of the game, however.

Family assets

A high-ranking official in Guangzhou's municipal political advisory body, Fan Songqing, recently offered to disclose details of his and his family's personal assets.

Fan told RFA's Cantonese service that he felt anxious after making the pledge, however.

"It's hard to say what about; it's a sort of nameless anxiety, a psychological pressure," Fan said. "No-one has openly criticized me, and the other delegates have only debated it, not put pressure on me."

He called on China's leadership to lead by example, if they wanted more officials to follow suit.

"This definitely has to come from the Party center," he said. "I think China's leaders should take the lead, because we all claim that the Communist Party represents the people, and shouldn't have special privileges."

"That would give the people some hope."

Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling, who recently signed an open letter calling on more than 200 of China's most powerful officials to declare their assets, said there was nothing stopping them from doing so right now.

"The best thing they could do would be to come clean and declare theirs and their relatives' assets publicly."

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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