Time to target grassroots corruption
No one is immune to disciplinary investigation, and that includes the deputies of the people’s congresses at all levels, said Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, at a news conference on Friday.
Just an hour before the briefing, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, the country’s top anti-graft watchdog, announced the investigation ofWangMin, former Party chief ofNortheast China’s Liaoning province, for suspected serious violations of Party discipline.
Corruption in local governments has dealt a heavy blow to the image of the Communist Party of China, and also harmed people’s legitimate interests. It thus calls for more concerted efforts to prevent abuse of power at all levels.
If they are proved to be corrupt, both senior officials, the so-called “tigers”, and lower-level public servants, known as “flies”, should be punished according to their misdeeds. While the former are often far removed from the daily lives of most people, lower-level officials can give people a hard time, not only making life miserable but also posing a threat to people’s legal interests.
The ongoing nationwide anti-graft campaign is key to ensuring that people from all walks of life are granted access to the dividends of the country’s growth, especially when it comes to medical services, education, employment, and food and drug safety.
It is worth noting that there are also loopholes that breed corruption when local authorities have the biggest say in managing collective funds, assets, and resources even in remote villages.
Some have little respect for the rule of lawand indulge in a variety of power abuses, such as selling reserved land to property developers and taking bribes from the developers to validate their illegal occupation and construction. Such misappropriation of public resources not only infringes on local residents’ legitimate interests but also tarnishes the ruling Party’s political image.
It is high time that the “flies” were eradicated for good. Local discipline inspection authorities should impose stricter supervision on all public servants and hold accountable those who violate regulations to keep them clean.
More specifically, they need to keep a close eye on the management of natural resources by curbing illegal exploitation and behind-the-scenes collusion between government and businessmen. Besides, measures should also be taken to make sure that the exclusive subsidies for rural residents are given to those in need and favorable medical and insurance policies are fully implemented.
Procuratorial departments at all levels need to fulfill their obligations as well, and they should supervise civil, criminal and administrative litigation, while dealing with corrupt officials suspected of misusing public funds, as well as judicial authorities that take bribes to help corrupt officials walk away with impunity.
Of course, more institutional efforts are required to build a firewall to prevent power-for-money exchanges, and ensure local authorities disclose affairs within the Party and the government, and improve their financial management.
To prevent public assets from being embezzled, representatives, especially those from less developed regions, should be granted a say in major governmental decisions, under the supervision and guidance of local village or town councils. Local officials are supposed to face routine audits of local financial affairs and make public the results in a timely manner.
The author is director of the China Anti-Corruption Judicial Research Center in Beijing.