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Corruption in China

China to launch graft-busting super bureau next year

Announcement gives government a deadline for putting anti-corruption campaign in legal framework

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 9:00am

China’s national anti-graft super-body will be established next March, leaving the long-disputed anti-corruption campaign one year to fit into a legal framework.

The country’s law-making body is scheduled to pass legal bills then on the National Supervision Committee, which will kick off the operation of the super body, and nailing down how it works, as well as their members are, according to an annual report of the party’s anti-corruption force.

The new committee will integrate various government and prosecutorial anti-corruption departments with the Central Committee of Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which is a party organ.

The passage is expected to take place during the National People’s Congress meeting next March, said the report, which was delivered two weeks ago and made public on Thursday.

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The timeline will leave the party around a year to finally fit its anti-graft forces in a legal framework, making it accountable to the law.

As the party’s spearhead of anti-graft efforts, the CCDI has been as effective as it has been controversial.

While it was credited by the party with netting down corrupt officials of unseen levels at paces unprecedented, it has what critics said unchecked authority in detaining and interrogating cadres. Critics said the anti-corruption campaign was a selective one that only targeted opponents of President Xi Jinping.

While the new committee make legal accountability possible for the CCDI, its status as a national super body could also further weaken judiciary independence, according Tong Zhiwei, a law professor with East China Normal University.

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“Before the founding of the committee, the CCDI did not need to report to the National People’s Congress. There was no law to regulate it, either,” said Tong.

“However, the move also further empowers of the CCDI, as it merges it with other anti-corruption forces in the prosecutors’ office. With its status further improved against the prosecutor’s office and the court, the flaw in judiciary independence concerning corruption cases may remain still or become worse.”

China’s prosecutors’ offices and courts are ranked humbly in the party, which critics argue to have caused the two offices only rubber stamping decisions of the party’s cadres.

The new committee, which will be given more independence and placed parallel with the government’s executive branch, will share same offices and largely the same personnel with the CCDI, senior officials had said.

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The provincial supervision committee of Shanxi Province, one of the three places chosen for the new super body’s pilot programs, saw its director and three deputies elected Wednesday.

The four are exactly the four most senior cadres in the provincial party discipline force.

“The three pilot programs will need to sort out how they could be supervised by provincial people’s congress... and a year ahead seems to be short time,” said Tong.

A senior anti-graft officials said last week that the new committee must be placed under the party’s leadership, and independence from the Communist Party was out of the question.

The comment was made despite the common belief among international scholars that independence is crucial to the success of anti-corruption agencies in any country.