Officials to Get 'Moral Training'

The Chinese Communist Party's move comes amid a series of corruption scandals.

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Visitors at an anti-corruption exhibition in Hangzhou, eastern China's Zhejiang province, Oct 8, 2011.
EyePress News

Faced with growing public mistrust and widespread popular anger over rampant corruption, China's ruling Communist Party recently launched "moral training sessions" for civil servants.

The clean-up drive comes as a Shanghai court handed a suspended death sentence to the former president of state-owned Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group for corruption  on Wednesday, amid growing concerns over drug safety.

Wu Jianwen, 42, was found guilty of taking bribes of 11.87 million yuan (U.S. $1.9 million) and embezzling 33.55 million yuan, the China Business News reported.

Wu, who was detained in 2009, took bribes 35 times over a decade in return for buying raw materials to be used in the company's products and for granting sales rights to certain agents, state media said.

He also bought luxury homes at below market prices as a form of bribe.

Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group is China's third largest drug company by revenue, according to the firm.

The sentencing came as the top-level civil service bureau ordered all personnel to attend the training sessions, which will focus on "loyalty to country," "serving the people," and "honesty and fairness," official media reported.

One workshop will be titled: "Scrupulous upholding of official duties."

'Personal integrity'

Professor Xia Ming, a political science teacher at the College of Staten Island in New York, said the move to enforce "moral training" is an indication of the moral laxity of Chinese officials.

"This training exists because they have recognized that the personal integrity of civil servants has weakened or has been totally neglected," Xia said.

"If Chinese officials lack integrity, then this is going to damage the government's effectiveness in governing the whole country."

Professor Hu Xiaobo, who heads the China Center at South Carolina's Clemson University, said the classes are unlikely to be effective without systemic changes to China's management of its own employees.

"You have to set up an entire system: a clear system, which sets out the standards and tells people how to implement them," Hu said.

A series of scandals in recent months involving misuse of state funds and official expense accounts has led to widespread anger and calls for a better system for the public declaration of interests and assets.

Outside agency

Experts say the current system of reporting assets isn't supervised by an outside agency.

"There needs to be a way to make judgments and carry out investigations, otherwise everything will just go along as it was before," Hu said.

He said guidelines such as those in other countries on the acceptance of gifts, with a monetary limit on their value, are needed.

"There has to be a system for reporting cases, for investigating them, and for punishing [malpractice]," Hu said. "Officials might be able to eat using public funds, but they should have to report the names of everyone they ate with."

Official corruption, already an endemic problem in China, has mushroomed in the wake of widespread government spending on infrastructure projects in the wake of the global economic crisis, experts say.

In some sectors of the economy, corrupt transactions have now taken over regular business as the priority in many areas of the communications industry and the judiciary, according to Chinese reports.

In 2007, the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, was executed after being convicted of taking bribes in return for approving hundreds of medicines, some of which proved dangerous.

Reported by Qiao Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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Nov 10, 2011 05:08 AM

None of this anti-corruption training will do anything. It's more for show to placate angry Chinese citizens. Corruption is deeply rooted in the Chinese political system. It's how the Party works, esp. at the local level but also at the national level. As long as one party controls everthing including the govt, the military & the economy, pervasive corruption will remain.

Nov 11, 2011 01:20 AM

Wangchuk's comment is exactly right. The campaign is all for show, with no real substance or effectiveness.

Nov 11, 2011 01:18 AM

Setting an example in corruption-free government should begin at the top. All Party and government officials should be required to declared all of their assets on an annual or bi-annual basis, including all foreign bank accounts such as accounts held in Switzerland and other countries with bank secrecy laws. According to a Wikileaks report, nearly all CCP Central Committee members and/or their family members held Swiss bank accounts as recently as two years ago, with a total of at least several hundred different Swiss bank accounts with ownership tied to the CCP elite. Anti-corruption drives that preach, "Do as I say, not as I do" like the one described in this article will get nowhere, and are merely designed to placate the outraged populace.

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