Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

Independence for China’s new super graft-buster ‘impossible’, Communist Party watchdog officials say

Senior mainland graft-busters insist new national supervision commission could not be realised without the leadership of the party

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 9:49am

The authority of a new overarching Chinese anti-corruption super agency will be on par with other state institutions, senior anti-graft officials said on Monday, but independence from the Communist Party was out of the question.

The remarks came a day after the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – the party’s anti-graft watchdog – made setting up the new national supervision commission one of its top priorities this year.

The new commission will integrate various government and prosecutorial anti-corruption departments into the CCDI, which is a party organ. The new body will be empowered to cover all public office bearers and civil servants.

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CCDI deputy chief Wu Yuliang said on Monday that any idea of setting up an anti-corruption agency without the party’s leadership was impossible.

“It is like my feet are bigger than yours, and you propose cutting my feet so I could fit your shoes. It would be the same as taking my life. It would be impossible,” Wu said, citing a Chinese idiom.

The CCDI also said at the end of a key three-day meeting on Sunday that one its tasks for this year was to push for national legislation for the new commission.

The concept was to be tested in three pilot areas – Beijing, Zhejiang and Shanxi – with members of these provincial commissions to be selected by the end of this month, state media reported last week. Late last month, the party’s top echelon also called for a road map and timetable for the reform, suggesting the body would be formed soon.

As with the executive government, the appointments to the provincial commissions would be made by provincial legislatures, and thus could be held accountable by those bodies.

They will also merge a handful of government departments tasked with fighting and preventing corruption.

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But the new agency would share the same offices and largely the same personnel as the CCDI, deputy supervision minister Xiao Pei said.

Xiao also said the new agency would oversee civil servants and other personnel with public authority, from school staff to legislative ­employees.

Zhu Jiangnan, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Hong Kong, said the overhaul would give the already powerful CCDI more power.

“The new supervision commission is essentially a way to further strengthen the CCDI, because the supervision commission will work with the CCDI, and the former anti-graft bureau under the procuratorate will move to the supervision commission,” Zhu said.

Dan Hough, an expert on corruption with the University of Sussex, in Britain, said anti-graft departments still needed more ­independence.