New blood despatched to region hit by graft

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 12:00am

Deployment is part of a government programme to rejuvenate the northeast

The central government has sent almost 100 cadres to the country's corruption-plagued northeastern provinces, in the biggest injection of fresh talent in the past two decades.

Analysts say the personnel changes, involving 94 senior cadres from various central and provincial government bodies in more developed east coast regions, are the most wide-ranging since the country embarked on economic reforms.

The moves coincide with the opening of a high-profile criminal case in Beijing this week that domestic media have billed as the worst influence-peddling scandal since 1949.

The massive deployment of 'advanced' cadres in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning was part of the central government's large-scale programme to rejuvenate the northeastern industrial rust belt, according to Central Organisation Department chief He Guoqiang, Xinhua reported.

Their average age is 43 and one-third hold masters or doctoral degrees.

Their cadres' new positions range from assisting provincial governors to serving as vice-mayors and directors in provincial departments.

Most have never worked in the northeast before and some have not even visited the places they are about to administer, according to a report by the 21st Century Economic Herald.

But Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political scientist, said their expertise in areas such as finance, investment and energy, as well as their relative lack of ties to the northeast would serve as first aid for a region where state-owned enterprises form the bulk of the economy, and public-sector corruption tends to be the norm.

'Public officials in northeast China are least equipped with market-economy ideas,' Mr Hu said.

'Many of them still think and function in the mode of a planned economy... they tend to think public positions are things you bargain for personal interest.'

The personnel move was also prescribed to fill positions left vacant by recent corruption cases, analysts said.

'The northeastern provinces are hitting the 'drought period' in terms of public officials,' said a political scientist at the official State School of Administration.

'Many positions need to be filled as heads have been rolling following the corruption scandals.'

He was referring to Ma De , former party secretary of Suihua city , Heilongjiang province, who went on trial on Tuesday for allegedly taking bribes worth more than 6 million yuan in exchange for helping cadres secure job promotions.

Ma's web of bribery involved as many as 265 officials, all of whom were sacked. More than 50 were at the municipal level or higher.