Shock ‘ tigers’ and awe ‘flies’

Five-year anti- graft plan shows lead­ers’ de­ter­mi­na­tion to curb cor­rup­tion by build­ing up in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized cages for power

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - WU YIXUE The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. wuy­ixue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The five-year anti-cor­rup­tion plan is­sued by the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day is tes­ta­ment to the top Chi­nese lead­er­ship’s un­shak­able de­ter­mi­na­tion to fight cor­rup­tion and a sub­stan­tial step to­ward ful­fill­ing its vow to put power within an in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized cage. The 6,000-char­ac­ter guide­line doc­u­ment, a re­flec­tion of the Party’s top-level anti-graft de­sign, in­cludes not just gen­eral anti-cor­rup­tion goals but also con­crete mea­sures and ways to­ward this end, in­clud­ing pun­ish­ing any of­fi­cial in­volved, how­ever high his or her po­si­tion is. It is an in­car­na­tion of the Chi­nese new lead­er­ship’s well-con­ceived think­ing in its up­hill bat­tle against cor­rup­tion.

The doc­u­ment has raised peo­ple’s hopes that cor­rup­tion will be ef­fec­tively con­tained and even­tu­ally erad­i­cated be­cause it sets an ex­plicit goal: “Af­ter five years of re­lent­less ef­forts, the spread­ing ten­dency of cor­rup­tion will be res­o­lutely curbed, and pro­gresses and ef­fects gen­er­ally sat­is­fac­tory to the pub­lic will be achieved.”

The lead­er­ship never un­der­es­ti­mates the scale of the task. “Cor­rup­tion is still wide­spread, the soil that nour­ishes cor­rup­tion still ex­ists, and the sit­u­a­tion re­mains crit­i­cal and com­pli­cated,” the doc­u­ment says.

Such a clear ac­knowl­edge­ment of the prob­lem is it­self a re­flec­tion of the new lead­er­ship’s prag­matic work­ing style and courage.

The doc­u­ment re­in­forces the re­solve of the lead­er­ship to im­prison un­bri­dled power in a cage of reg­u­la­tions and crack down on both high- rank­ing “tigers” and low- rank­ing “flies”, and con­tains a vow that probes will be made of any­one who dares to cross the bot­tom line of State laws and Party dis­ci­plines, no mat­ter who is in­volved and no mat­ter how se­nior they are. Such word­ing is by no means hol­low saber- rat­tling that lacks sub­stance. The down­fall of a se­ries of se­nior of­fi­cials over the past year, es­pe­cially the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sev­eral min­is­te­rial- level of­fi­cials since the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, serves as the best ev­i­dence that this pledge is se­ri­ous.

How­ever, pre­ven­ta­tive mech­a­nisms are at the heart of the plan. The doc­u­ment out­lines a far-rang­ing net­work of meth­ods and mea­sures aimed at lim­it­ing the space for cor­rup­tion, em­body­ing a shift in ap­proach from mainly fo­cus­ing on pun­ish­ing cor­rupt of­fi­cials to fo­cus­ing on build­ing a com­pre­hen­sive an­ticor­rup­tion frame­work. Putting in place a fullfledged anti-cor­rup­tion sys­tem will re­duce the op­por­tu­ni­ties for of­fi­cials to be tempted and de­ter of­fi­cials from giv­ing in to the temp­ta­tion when they are. To this end, the doc­u­ment stresses, an ex­ten­sive su­per­vi­sory mech­a­nism, in­clud­ing In­ter­net and in­tra-Party su­per­vi­sion, will be set up and strength­ened.

The doc­u­ment also calls for an im­proved le­gal sys­tem — and mea­sures to en­sure ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence — to en­sure the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of var­i­ous anti-deca­dence reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing those con­cern­ing the use of pub­lic ve­hi­cles, the con­struc­tion of of­fice com­pounds, busi­ness re­cep­tions and over­seas trips. Putting this into ef­fect will im­prove the im­age of both the gov­ern­ment and Party and in­crease ju­di­cial open­ness.

At the same time, the Party it­self has been pro­mot­ing in­ner-Party reg­u­la­tions against cor­rup­tion, and the doc­u­ment sets forth the de­mand that of­fi­cials at min­is­te­rial and pro­vin­cial lev­els will have to sub­mit an an­nual clean-gov­er­nance re­port to the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties, a re­quire­ment that marks a big­ger step to­ward pre­vent­ing cor­rup­tion among the coun­try’s se­nior of­fi­cials. Un­re­strained power usu­ally leads to abuse of power and cor­rup­tion. A clean-gov­er­nance re­port­ing sys­tem and tight­ened ac­count­abil­ity for mal­prac­tices will thus serve as an ef­fec­tive way of im­pos­ing more re­straints and su­per­vi­sion on the power of ma­jor lead­ing of­fi­cials.

Another ini­tia­tive men­tioned in the doc­u­ment is set­ting up a sound sys­tem for se­nior of­fi­cials to re­port their per­sonal af­fairs and prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing mea­sures to make pub­lic nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion of newly nom­i­nated lead­ers’ fam­i­lies. The ini­tia­tive, raised by the Party’s top anti-graft watch­dog and ex­pected to be ex­er­cised on a trial ba­sis first, will be putting of­fi­cials’ pub­lic-re­lated af­fairs un­der sun­light. State-owned en­ter­prises and fi­nan­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions will also be placed un­der in­qui­si­tion and re­spon­si­bil­ity sys­tems.

The es­tab­lish­ment of an open and trans­par­ent prop­erty in­for­ma­tion dis­clo­sure sys­tem is widely be­lieved to be an ef­fec­tive way to pre­vent and de­ter cor­rup­tion, and greater trans­parency should also be ex­er­cised in Party, gov­ern­ment and ju­di­cial af­fairs, es­pe­cially gov­ern­ment bud­gets, large projects and pub­lic un­der­tak­ings.

Ad­min­is­tra­tive su­per­vi­sion will in­clude the over­see­ing of se­nior-level de­part­ments and au­dit­ing pro­ce­dures, and of­fi­cials should be put un­der the watch­ful eyes of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties other than the CPC, busi­ness fed­er­a­tions and trade unions. More­over, the guide­line also en­cour­ages pub­lic su­per­vi­sion, es­pe­cially through the In­ter­net.

Cor­rup­tion is a widely re­viled so­cial sin. The newly pub­lished five-year plan un­doubt­edly marks the rul­ing Party’s new and up­graded ef­forts to cure and erad­i­cate this long in­tractable is­sue. In­spir­ingly, the lead­er­ship has dealt a heavy blow against cor­rupt of­fi­cials over the past year, and taken sub­stan­tial steps to­ward re­strain­ing power through leg­is­la­tion and build­ing sys­tems and strength­en­ing Party and pub­lic su­per­vi­sion.

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