CORRUPTION
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Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

Anti-corruption watchdog to penetrate Communist Party core

Watchdog's surveillance net to cover all departments, including country's most powerful

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 December, 2014, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 December, 2014, 12:08am

Anti-graft agents will be sent to the nerve centres of Communist Party and government power, putting officials in those departments under unprecedented scrutiny as the party widens its crackdown on corruption.

Xinhua reported on Thursday night that the party's discipline watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), would set up bases in all arms of the central government and party, including - for the first time - the offices of the State Council and the party's elite Central Committee.

Among the first bodies to be targeted are the Organisation Department, the party's propaganda department, the United Front Work Department, the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Some of these bodies form the core of daily party operations and wield enormous power, with a number reporting directly to the Politburo Standing Committee, the leadership's highest decision-making body.

Their heads are also among the closest aides to top party leaders.

Ling Jihua , for example, is the head of the United Front Work Department and was a top aide to former president Hu Jintao when Ling headed the General Office of the Central Committee.

Ling, whose son died when his Ferrari crashed in Beijing in 2012, has been in the spotlight, with two brothers, Ling Zhengce and Ling Wancheng , under investigation for graft.

Under guidelines endorsed by the Politburo, the inspection teams will be able to sit in on important meetings by the heads of the agencies and, with prior approval, investigate the personal lives of those officials.

CCDI deputy director Chen Wenqing told Xinhua there was an urgent need to ramp up oversight of these units.

"These offices are at the centre of the party and state management system - they are the most prominent and have the most centralised power," Chen said.

He said the move was an "important first step" in efforts to send inspectors to all 140-plus central party and state departments. In the past, fewer than 60 have had CCDI inspectors stationed in their offices.

Peking University anti-graft expert Zhuang Deshui said the CCDI's powers were not being expanded but the guidelines did spell out the inspectors' duties and gave them the powers they needed to do their job.

"It's up to the inspection teams to use their power to inspect high-level and powerful agencies," Zhuang said.

The CCDI will be in charge of running all of the inspection teams. The Organisation Department and the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform will also help the CCDI coordinate its investigations.