Wang Qishan

China appoints respected economist to target graft

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 6:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 6:17pm

China appointed a respected economist to head its anti-graft drive as it sought to stress its resolve in fighting the rampant corruption identified as one of the biggest challenges for the Communist Party.

Wang Qishan, China’s top finance official, will head the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, as the party’s five-yearly congress came to a close in Beijing.

Wang is best known for representing China in key economic talks with the United States and European Union.

The congress also approved an amendment to the party constitution to include a call for “attaching greater importance to conducting oversight of cadres”, Xinhua said.

During the congress, delegates selected a roughly 200-strong new party Central Committee and made other appointments to key party bodies such as the disciplinary commission, which is tasked with keeping officials in line.

Wang also looks poised to take a seat on China’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, which now has nine members and is set to be unveiled in Beijing tomorrow.

“Its an interesting decision, as Wang is best known for relations with America and being a well-thought-of economic specialist,” Kerry Brown, Professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Sydney, told reporters.

“He’s very capable, so his capacity being put to work in this area shows a slight readjustment to emphasise the corruption issue,” he said.

The party has been stained by a series of high-profile corruption scandals in recent years, most recently the spectacular downfall of senior politician Bo Xilai, who faces trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

President Hu Jintao said at a keynote address to the congress last week that a failure to tackle corruption by party officials could cause “the collapse of the party and the fall of the state”.