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Chinese lawmakers urge amplified anti-corruption efforts to maintain social stability
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13:29, March 11, 2009

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China's Prosecutor-General Cao Jianming said Tuesday that 2,687 government officials were investigated last year for graft, malfeasance and infringement on people's rights, including four at the province or ministry level.

A total of 10,315 cases of commercial bribery were committed by government workers, involving more than 2.1 billion yuan, Cao said.

The figures cast concerns among Chinese lawmakers who demanded anti-corruption be prioritized for the sake of China's social stability amid the financial crisis.

Anti-corruption ranked the most concerned issue at the annual sessions of China's parliament, according to an online survey conducted by Xinhua.com and peoples daily.com.

"The Chinese people attached so much importance to the anti-corruption cause when we are coping with the financial meltdown, and why?" Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during his two-hour chat with netizens on Feb. 28.

"Because in my opinion, economic development, social justice and a clean government are the three pillars of social stability," Wen said, quoting that a clean government was the most important among the three.

Wen's words were echoed by Chen Wanzhi, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chongqing Municipal Committee.

The financial crisis has already affected the Chinese people's wellbeing to different levels, leaving 7 million college graduates,20 million migrant workers and hundreds of thousands of urban citizens jobless. All these could jeopardize the country's stability, Chen said.

"If the government does not seek to further crack down on corruption, which has been a lasting pain in China, at this point of time, its image among the masses could be seriously compromised, and the country's social stability shattered due to the lack of public support to the government," he said.

Li Changshun, an entrepreneur-turned deputy to the NPC from the eastern province of Shandong, also said, "The more challenges we face amid the global financial crisis, the more pressing it is to step up anti-corruption crackdown."

China in recent years has adopted a dual approach that combined both prevention and punishment to address the country's wide spread corruption.

A string of crooked senior officials have been investigated and punished in recent years, including former Shanghai Communist Party Chief Chen Liangyu and former director of the State Food and Drug Administration Zheng Xiaoyu.

Just five days before the NPC session started, Mi Fengjun, a senior legislator in northeastern Jilin Province, was dismissed from the national legislature for taking bribes.

China established the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention in 2007, which was created to intensify corruption fighting and conduct additional international exchanges in the field.

While lawmakers hailed the country's anti-corruption progress, they also admitted that the country still has a long way to go.

According to Hao Ruyu, vice president of the Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business and an NPC deputy, the lack of effective supervision against corruption has made the real estates, land management, finance and judiciary sector a hotbed for corruption.

China announced a four-trillion-yuan stimulus package to revitalize its economy, and how to prevent the planned package from falling prey to the corrupted has become a major focus of the China's anti-corruption cause.

Zhang Ping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told Xinhua the government has set up 24 inspection teams to make sure the money goes where it is intended to.

Guo Jiasen, chief procurator of the Shandong Provincial People's Procuratorate, said the prosecuting authorities had enhanced supervision on projects that concern people's well-being, infrastructure construction, and power conservation projects to prevent officials from taking advantage of their own jobs for personal gains.

The Communist Party of China also started a campaign to further improve education and supervision on officials in order to rule out power abuses.

When joining NPC deputies from the eastern Jiangsu Province on March 5, Chinese President Hu Jintao asked officials to "study earnestly, behave honestly and work with integrity."

While calling for severe punishment for those crooked officials who take advantage of their posts for personal gains, take bribes, and neglect their duties, lawmakers hailed Premier Wen Jiabao's proposal on Feb. 28 that public servants declare their assets as part of the country's anti-corruption campaign.

"We need to promote transparency of government affairs and also need to make public officials' assets," the premier said, "Only when power is restricted can corruption be prevented fundamentally."

Zhou Guangquan, an NPC deputy and a procurator in Beijing, said stepped-up anti-corruption efforts are key to China's economic development and its fight against the financial crisis.

"Corruption would add the cost of reform and development, and deprive people of their due interests, thus causing injustice and disputes in society," he said.

"It is essential that the country's prosecuting authorities take anti-corruption as their focus of work next year," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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