Chinese inspectors uncover widespread corruption in 'shock and awe' probe

Bo Xilai's former stronghold of Chongqing among places criticised by anti-graft teams for failing to impose sufficient checks on leaders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 7:08pm

Ten teams of inspectors sent around the nation four months ago as part of the leadership's anti-graft drive have wrapped up their field trips, finding "corruption problems" in most places they visited.

They inspected units in Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Hubei and Guizhou, as well as the Ministry of Water Resources, the Import-Export Bank of China, the China Grain Reserves Corporation, Renmin University and the China Publishing Group.

The teams have provided feedback to the inspected bodies and alerted the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to signs of possible corruption, according to a statement released on the official website run jointly by the CCDI and the Ministry of Supervision.

The central inspection teams aim to spot corruption and create an atmosphere of "shock and awe" [among officials] to curb rampant corruption, said Wang Qishan, China's anticorruption tsar, before despatching the teams in mid-May.

The most eye-catching destination was Chongqing, still smarting from the upheavals of the downfall of its former party chief Bo Xilai . Bo was sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption and abuse of power.

In a comment about the new Chongqing municipal government, Xu Guangchun, head of the Fifth Central Inspection Team, said the municipality had failed to impose sufficient checks and supervision over its top leaders, and certain leading cadres did not have firm political beliefs and failed to reach moral standards.

Xu also warned about "corruption risks" in state-owned enterprises in the municipality, pointing to rampant "fly-style" corruption - committed by lower-ranking officials - within the organisations.

At the China Grain Reserves Corporation, the inspectors also found rampant corruption among low-level officials, as well as loopholes in work safety. They also found false reports about grain storage.

Just days after the inspection team started its work at the corporation at the end of May, a fire broke out at a warehouse in Heilongjiang , causing an economic loss of over 3 million yuan. The public questioned if the fire was started deliberately to cover up fake storage, but an investigation later blamed it on an electrical short circuit.

In southwest Guizhou province, inspectors found a few officials trading their power for money. Many corruption cases also involved mining projects and land transfer deals. In addition, some local departments faked their statistics, the inspectors said.

In the central province of Jiangxi, certain officials and their relatives intervened in construction projects and sought personal benefits. In addition, some officials were promoted and installed in key positions despite having a record of corruption, said inspectors.

Inspectors spotted irregular trading of book codes and illicit dealings with private companies at the China Publishing Group. In China, publishers are required to provide a book code before publishing, but these codes are normally controlled by state-owned publishing firms and most private companies are forced to buy them from state-owned firms.

With the Import-Export Bank, inspectors found some staff used their power to approve loans for personal benefit.

"The latest round of inspections shows the central government's determination in fighting corruption, as most teams have exposed certain corruption problems," said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance. He also suggested that more external experts and professionals should be invited to join the inspection teams "to increase their efficiency and transparency".