China's third plenum

Sweeping changes needed to tackle graft in China, say analysts

Analysts concerned about effectiveness of plans to expand reach of party graft-busters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:39am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:39am

The Communist Party's decision to expand the reach of its internal graft-busters has been praised as a positive step, but analysts warned that more sweeping changes were needed to cure the epidemic of corruption on the mainland.

The party's Central Committee resolved at its four-day plenum last week to give the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) broader authority over ministries, state agencies and regional governments.

It would also make permanent key elements of party chief Xi Jinping's ongoing anti-graft campaign: basing inspection teams in central agencies and party offices and routinely sending task forces to state-owned enterprises and provincial and local governments.

The Central Committee called on the party "to completely implement CCDI's [practice] of sending their representatives to be stationed in central party and state organs" and "to improve the inspection tour system to cover all local governments, government departments, state- owned enterprises and public institutions".

The party said the moves would strengthen CCDI's management of local disciplinary watchdogs as they work to "clarify and standardise the existing dual-leadership system".

Analysts agreed there would probably be more graft cases, but they argued a more radical overhaul was needed to fight the root causes of corruption.

"The measures are welcome as they will help the fight against graft," said Chen Ziming , a Beijing-based commentator. "But without fundamental institutional reform the effort cannot solve the long-standing problem."

Under the current system, established by the party charter in 1982, local disciplinary officials answer to both the CCDI and their corresponding local party committees. The arrangement creates potential conflicts of interest, with investigators reporting to the same people they might investigate.

The plenum reforms would give superior disciplinary bodies more control over those at a lower level, including input over the selection of top officials.

"There will be more rigorous and routine monitoring of people in leadership positions," said Professor Yuan Jingdong, a political scientist from the University of Sydney. He attributed the changes to CCDI chief Wang Qishan , the No6 member of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Since Xi began his corruption crackdown last year, the CCDI has sent inspection teams to investigate reports of wrongdoing, resulting in numerous arrests. The first 10 teams wrapped up their tours in September; another 10 were sent out last month.


Main reforms agreed by Communist Party Central Committee plenum


  • State enterprises will have to pay 30 per cent of their profits to the government for social welfare by 2020
  • Privately capitalised small and medium-sized banks to be allowed
  • Private capital investment in state-dominated industries allowed
  • More competition in the pricing for utilities such as water, petroleum, electricity, transport, and telecommunications


  • Couples will be allowed to have a second child if one of the parents is a single child
  • Later retirement age studied
  • Applications for residence in small and medium-sized cities to be opened up but the size of permanent populations in big cities will be strictly controlled


  • Abolish the "re-education through labour" system
  • Gradual reduction of criminal charges that may lead to death sentences
  • Legal consultancy system to be created

Government and army

  • Explore ways to set up an official residence scheme
  • Streamline the army and reduce the number of non-combat personnel
  • Party bosses and chiefs of local graft watchdogs should be nominated by graft watchdogs at superior levels
  • Study ending the official status of heads of universities, research institutes and hospitals
  • Clarify the responsibilities of the central and local governments, with the central government focusing on national defence, foreign relations, national security, and setting regulations for national markets
  • Improve the urban management system