The mainland's top prosecuting body is to get tougher on people who give bribes, and not just focus on those who take them, according to a mainland newspaper report and sources familiar with the matter.
Xu Jinhui, the director of the anti-corruption bureau at the Supreme People's Procuratorate, or prosecutors, said during a meeting on Thursday that offering bribes was a major cause of corruption and the government could only curb graft by cracking down hard on the practice, prosecutors and lawyers said. The Legal Daily, a newspaper in Beijing affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, briefly reported on the meeting, saying the authorities had pressed prosecutors to focus on bribe givers when investigating corruption cases in the future.
Prosecutors should change the mindset that solely concentrated efforts on investigating corrupt officials while neglecting to punish people giving bribes, the paper said.
Punishments for those convicted of giving bribes will be toughened, the newspaper said.
Zhuang Deshui, an expert on corrupt practices at Peking University, said investigators used to be more lenient on people giving bribes in the hope that they could help identify officials who took the kickbacks.
"Investigators always seek breakthroughs from the interrogations of bribe givers in corruption cases, so bribe givers would always receive lenient sentences if they agreed to help the authorities," said Zhang.
"So in practice bribe givers often repeat the same crimes because they have learned they can go unpunished."
Sentences for offering bribes currently vary from up to five years in jail to a life sentence. Only those categorised as "extremely serious offences" receive harsher punishment.