Anti-graft effort satisfies 62 percent of public in 2016, national poll says
Six out of 10 people are satisfied with China’s anti-graft efforts in 2016, according to a poll by the top State-run think tank.
The approval level among the public of 62 percent was higher for functionaries, at 95 percent, in the poll by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The poll, based on more than 5,000 valid questionnaires, is part of the sixth annual report on the evaluation of China’s anti-graft drive released by the academy onWednesday.
The past year’s crackdown appears to be having the desired effect, said Jiang Laiyong, secretary-general of government integrity research center at the academy.
“The number of corruption cases discovered in 2016 was significantly lower than in earlier years. Most corruption cases known to the public were investigated in previous years and are being processed by judiciary departments now,” Jiang said.
“According to public information, we can see that large bribes were taken mostly before 2013. Now we barely see officials who dare to take bribes or embezzle public money in large amounts.”
There has also been a big drop in tipoffs and complaints from the public, another indication that the campaign has been effective since it started in 2012, he added.
The report says the most notable progress in 2016 was the creation of an integrity system for clean government. It notes that intra-Party supervision ordinances and guiding principles on the political life of the Party were issued in addition to accountability regulations on the work of government officials.
Judicial entities, such as the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate also issued specific bylaws for dealing with corruption cases. Such practical measures significantly improved governance in 2016, the report stated.
In Hebei province, disciplinary inspection procedures were greatly improved, and 220 top cadres were picked for the inspection team talent pool, according to Zhang Guolan of the province’s disciplinary department.
Areas they will be looking into include the land and resources and the housing and rural development departments, she said.
While evidence of major corruption decreased in 2016, cases of minor violations of Party discipline rose.
A total of 40,827 cases were investigated in 2016 involving violations of the eight-point austerity rules emphasized by the Party over the past four years. That represents an annual increase of nearly 11 percent, according to the antigraft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
In those cases, 42,466 people were disciplined, 25 percent more than in the previous year.
“New problems emerged following the significant progress made in anti-graft drive,” Jiang said.
Local officials in some regions showed less initiative at work to avoid making mistakes, and in some cases, the public still had to offer “gift money”, or small bribes, to functionaries.
Jiang suggested steps to reduce the income gap that leads some low-income functionaries into temptation.
The mobile shopping mania is set to continue for online and brick-and-mortar businesses, fueled by expansion overseas by Alipay and archrival WeChat Pay, which is run by internet giant Tencent, Yan said.
The two, which Counterpoint said claimed over 80 percent of China’s mobile payment service, have taken great leaps to broaden overseas mobile payment services.
With 450 million users, Alipay is accepted by more than 80,000 merchants worldwide in 18 currencies, including high-end department stores such as Harrods and Printemps, which are meccas for Chinese consumers.
It hopes to serve 2 billion customers over the next decade around the world, with 60 percent of its transaction volume coming from outside China.
Meanwhile, Tencent is quickly growing its market share to about 25 percent, as it anchors on a surging number of Chinese tourists who are among the 762 million users of its popular mobile appWeChat, which enables cashless payments.
More than 10 countries and regions now support WeChat payments, and the number is expected to explode within a year or two, the company said.
Xu Mingqi, a senior researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said younger consumers are big spenders overseas.
“Being mobile-crazy and open-minded, a lot of them enjoy a far higher standard of living and are exposed to opportunities to study and travel abroad,” he said.
Asia-Pacific markets stand to benefit the most, with the biggest upticks in mobile spending in South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia, according to Alipay.
Alipay claims around 65 percent of the country’s 12 trillion yuan ($1.73 trillion) mobile payment market, according to Counterpoint. Overseas transactions now account for less than 10 percent of all mobile-enabled transactions.