Pri­vate clubs are tar­geted by anti-graft cam­paign

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION / DIGEST - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­

China’s top anti-cor­rup­tion agency has pledged to crack down on ex­trav­a­gance and ex­cess for­mal­ity that takes place dis­creetly at pri­vate clubs.

The Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion of the Com­mu­nist Party of China is­sued a reg­u­la­tion on Mon­day that re­quires all govern­ment of­fi­cials not to at­tend ban­quets and re­cre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties at pri­vate clubs — the new strongholds of cor­rup­tion.

In re­cent years, the fa­cil­i­ties of some pub­lic parks and his­toric sites have been trans­formed into pri­vate clubs, where govern­ment of­fi­cials se­cretly con­tinue their ex­trav­a­gant life­styles and even con­duct power-for-money deals de­spite anti-graft calls from the Party’s Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, the com­mis­sion said.

To con­tain the cor­rup­tion, the com­mis­sion urges of­fi­cials to prom­ise not to ap­pear at such lux­ury clubs or ac­cept mem­ber­ship cards.

How­ever, it’s dif­fi­cult to iden­tify such cor­rup­tion be­cause of the clubs’ se­cret lo­ca­tions, an anti-cor­rup­tion ex­pert said.

“It’s re­ally hard to ex­pose this kind of lux­ury club as they are usu­ally hid­den in pub­lic parks,” said Zhu Li­jia, pro­fes­sor at Chi­nese Academy of Gov­er­nance. “How to dif­fer­en­ti­ate ex­trav­a­gant ac­tiv­i­ties at pub­lic ex­pense from pri­vate fam­ily din­ners is another is­sue.”

Zhu said such a reg­u­la­tion is in line with the “eight-point” rules against ex­trav­a­gance and ex­ces­sive pub­lic spend­ing, which the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee pre­sented last De­cem­ber.

A to­tal of 19,896 Party and govern­ment of­fi­cials had been pun­ished as of late Oc­to­ber for break­ing the rules, and the com­mis­sion has ex­posed more than 20 typ­i­cal vi­o­la­tions of the rules across the coun­try since March, a CCTV re­port said.

In one of the cases, eight of­fi­cials with the lo­cal trans­porta­tion bu­reau in Pu­tian, Fu­jian prov­ince, were sus­pended for spend­ing 7,064 yuan ($1,163) on a lux­u­ri­ous din­ner at a pri­vate club ear­lier this year.

Xin Ming, a pro­fes­sor at the Party School of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the CPC, said in a CCTV in­ter­view that more de­tails on defin­ing such cor­rupt prac­tices at pri­vate clubs should be added to the reg­u­la­tion so en­force­ment will be eas­ier.

Zhu agreed, say­ing lo­cal au­thor­i­ties should thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate the op­er­a­tion of pri­vate clubs.

“Some clubs with­out busi­ness per­mits or that il­le­gally en­croach on pub­lic land need to be clamped down on,” Zhu said.

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