China's Anti-Graft Chief Warns of New Round of Probes

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china-wang-qishan-march-2012.jpg Wang Qishan attends the second plenary session of of the National People's Congress's annual session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 8, 2012.

China's anti-corruption czar has called for a campaign of "shock and awe" against graft in the ranks of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, in an apparent move to make a personal mark on a drive started by President Xi Jinping, analysts said on Friday.

Wang Qishan, who heads the Party's feared investigative agency, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, urged his staff to spare no effort in rooting out corruption.

"Give prominence to discovering problems, strengthen 'shock and awe,' and don't let those with issues think they can get lucky. Don't give corrupt elements any place to go," Wang told them, in comments published on his department's website this week.

Wang, who was launching the second round of investigations throughout Party ranks this year, gave no specific details of the measures that would be employed by his investigators, however.

Wang's teams will broaden their probes to include six provinces and four government departments, including the official news agency Xinhua and the Commerce Ministry, following a similar round of inspections begun in May, the Commission said.

Xi's warning

President Xi Jinping, who took over leadership last November, has warned that the Party must beat graft in order to survive and has launched a campaign targeting powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies."

"The Chinese public is thoroughly sick of corruption, which has already caused a huge amount of anger," said Jason Z. Yin, a professor of strategy management and international business at Seton Hall University.

"The concept of shock and awe is a pretty good one." But he added: "There's no way they will be able to arrest all corrupt officials."

Wang, meanwhile, has warned disciplinary investigators against failing in their duty, calling on them to "earnestly shoulder the responsibility for discovering problems."

"It is a dereliction of duty not to discover major problems which ought to be found, and it is malfeasance not to offer objective reports on problems that are found," he warned.

However, while investigators are probing a Nanjing mayor for corruption, little public information has been forthcoming about the scope of investigations, apart from a stream of relatively low-profile investigations reported on the Commission's website.

Largely political

Li Xiaobing, director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, said the anti-corruption campaign was largely a political move, however.

"[Its] aim is to strengthen the political power and authority of the new administration, and to put an end to the factionalism of the past," he said.

He said the anti-corruption campaign was unlikely to turn into a political movement reminiscent of the Mao era, in which political opponents were arbitrarily denounced, however.

"Xi, [Chinese Premier] Li [Keqiang] and Wang have all been there," Li said. "They have all been through the baptism of political movements."

Yin agreed. "His own personal experience, as well as that of his father [revolutionary leader Xi Zhongxun] suggests [Xi] isn't launching a political movement."

"The damage of a political movement to society and to the Party would be too great," he added.

"They can only really take it one case at a time."

Reported by Yang Jiadai for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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