Guangdong and Hubei elevate graft-busters in provincial party hierarchy
Guangdong and Hubei cement new rankings for anti-corruption chiefs in party hierarchies across the province to give watchdogs a bigger bite
The Communist Party committees in Hubei and Guangdong have given a shot in the arm to their internal graft-busters, automatically promoting discipline chiefs in governments and institutions throughout the provinces up committee hierarchies, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The across-the-board boost in status is part of efforts to improve arms-length oversight of officials, according to an official report.
Within government, disciplinary secretaries will be ranked fourth, with the party secretary and his or her two deputies taking up the first three positions. In other institutions, the officers will be third behind the party secretary and the administrative chief.
Until now, provincial disciplinary secretaries have been ranked anywhere between fourth and last on the list of their 13-member standing committees.
In Guangdong and Hubei, the provincial disciplinary secretary is already ranked fourth in the standing committee hierarchy, but in Shandong , for example, the official occupying the same position is seventh.
Li Songyin, chief of the party's discipline inspection commission at the Hubei Provincial Department of Justice, said his ranking in the department's party committee had risen from ninth to third.
Xinhua quoted Li's superior, Hou Changan, secretary of the Hubei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection, as saying the new "arrangements have made you [Li] more influential within the leadership team".
Wen Yuankai, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the decision to cement new rankings for the officials would boost the power of the watchdogs to fight corruption in the bodies.
"The reform to boost the status of disciplinary watchdogs within the hierarchy will help sharpen their teeth in the anti-corruption drive," Wen said.
But Ma Guoxian, director of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics' Public Policy Research Centre, said corruption can only be rooted out through the rule of law.
Ma said systematic institutional changes would be more crucial in the long-term effort to eradicate graft.
"Reforms to boost watchdogs' powers will help, but the party will only be able to fight widespread corruption effectively when it introduces checks and balances into the system," he said.
The changes came as Guangdong's commission for discipline inspection said it had deployed 70 per cent of its staff to focus on graft investigations.
Since coming to power in late 2012, President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has backed efforts to expand the reach of the party's internal graft-busters to help root out corruption. As part of the push, the Politburo, the party's highest decision-making body, has decided to give the discipline inspection commissions at various levels broader authority over party and government organs.