Senior officials should know that failing to curb corruption is a “serious breach of duty,” according to the communiqué of the third plenary session of the Communist Party Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) released on Wednesday.
According to the party document, the Party will streamline its disciplinary system and step up efforts to scrutinise senior-level officials, hunt corrupt officials who flee abroad, and name and shame officials who violate disciplinary guidelines.
Following President Xi Jinping’s call for “strong medicine” to combat the “grim” graft situation, the Party pledged to grant more power to discipline inspection agencies and improve the efficiency of anti-graft inspectors sent to provincial governments and state-owned enterprises.
“Xi is serious about anti-corruption - corruption erodes the capacity of the party as an instrument of control and governance, and he is serious in wanting to strengthen the party’s control,” said Steve Tsang, professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham.
Xie Chuntao, a professor at the Party School, told Xinhua that the streamlining of disciplinary agencies would ensure greater accuracy in graft investigations.
“Sometimes a local discipline inspection agency will come across leads that involve officials of the Communist Party committee at the same level. A more powerful superior agency will make sure it reports the leads, smoothes investigation and prevents cover-ups,” he said.
During Xi’s first year as head of the Party, the CCDI investigated and punished 182,000 officials, 13.3 per cent more than the previous year. Despite the increase, Xi stressed “we should not allow the system to become a paper tiger or scarecrow”.
“He [Xi] has been very successful at containing ostentatious displays of ill gotten gains,” Tsang said. “We can see certain parts of the Chinese economy hurting because of that – lavish restaurants, mao-tai, etc.
“But corruption has not been eradicated – the temptation is still there, the attitude hasn’t changed. The attitude now is ‘how can I get away with it?’.”
According to Xinhua, Wang Yukai of the National School of Administration said that after several senior officials and executives had been investigated, the trend of corruption spreading further had been reined in, but that the situation was still serious.
Anti-graft work should focus on strength within the system or administration, and strictly supervise and punish without leniency if culprits are identified, he said. At the same time, he added, the efforts should rely more on public pressure, focus on anti-graft efforts online and strengthen supervision by public opinion.
Ma Huaide, vice-president of the China University of Political Science and Law, predicted to Xinhua that this year the Communist Party’s anti-graft campaign would continue and as the net tightens, it would be less likely for anti-corruption “safe havens” to appear again.