Graft remains top public concern prior to annual parliamentary session: survey

08:22, February 25, 2011      

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Graft remains one of the Chinese people's top concerns, as indicated by online polls from two mainstream media in China prior to the country's annual parliamentary and political advisory sessions.

As of 9 p.m. on Thursday, over 54,000 Internet users voiced their concerns over "the fight against corruption and efforts to build a clean government" in an online survey launched by the Xinhua News Agency.

Corruption came in at fourth place behind "curbing housing prices," "income distribution" and "control of commodity prices."

The poll was launched by Xinhua and was meant to solicit public opinion ahead of the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

In a survey posted on People.com.cn, a website subsidiary of the People's Daily newspaper, "anti-graft" was among the most selected topics following "social security" and "judicial justice."

Internet users pinned their hopes on the forthcoming parliamentary and political advisory sessions, which are scheduled to open in early March.

They hope that their voices would be heard by the country's lawmakers and political advisors, who would represent them in the two sessions and would take all possible measures to tackle a number of social issues including the fight against corruption.

"I hope that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) combats graft comprehensively and severely to ensure a Party with a clean work style, a society with justice and assures the Chinese people that they would not be wronged," said an Internet user from Jiangxi province in a forum entitled "voicing my wishes to Premier Wen Jiabao at the 2011 two sessions " on xinhuanet.com.

Internet users believe that the spread of corruption in some places had hindered China's economic development, undermined social stability and harmed the relationship between the people and officials.

The fight against corruption, therefore, is a significant factor in determining whether or not China can reach its goals outlined in its Twelfth Five-year Program (2011-2015) on National Economic and Social Development, an Internet user wrote.

"Corruption has affected Chinese people's life through its spread into many social sectors. As the two sessions represent an open platform to reflect the people's will, citizens hope to push forward the cause of anti-corruption through legislation, thus addressing their common concerns." said Ren Jianmin, director of the Anti-corruption and Governance Research Center of Tsinghua University.

The CPC has never relaxed its efforts to fight against corruption, experts say.

Last year saw four ministerial-level Chinese officials placed under a graft probe or removed from their posts. Among these officials were Zhang Jiameng, former vice chairman of the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee in southeast China, and Zhang Jingli, former deputy director of the State Food and Drug Administration.

Another 11 ministerial-level officials were sentenced to life imprisonment or other severe punishments in 2010.

On February 12 this year, Liu Zhijun, the Chinese Minister of Railways, was removed from his post as the Party chief of the ministry over an alleged "severe violation of discipline," becoming the latest senior official to be investigated in the country's battle against corruption.

Experts believe that the downfall of high-ranking officials over corruption charges have clearly shown the determination of the CPC to enforce the Party's discipline, combat corruption and promote a clean work style.

On January 10 this year, Chinese president Hu Jintao called for efforts to tackle prominent problems that have seriously harmed people's interests and sparked most public complaints during a plenary session of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Party's anti-graft body.

He also pledged to combat graft and punish corrupt officials severely to win the trust of the people.

Further, the CPC's drive to erase corruption yielded significant results last year.

A total of 5,098 leaders at the county level or above have been punished and 804 officials were referred for prosecution last year, said Gan Yisheng, the deputy secretary of the CCDI, on January 6 this year.

Despite the achievements accomplished by the CPC in its fight against corruption, Ren Jianmin believes that the anti-graft situation in China is grave and the task remain arduous.

Problems concerning land acquisition and compensation, housing, food and drug safety, environmental protection, work place safety and equal access to education have been reported by the public.

To handle these issues, CCDI secretary He Guoqiang urged officials on January 12 to "put people first" and "exercise the state's power for the people" when addressing problems that the public complains about.

He, also a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, said that efforts should be enhanced to fight graft in fields that are most vulnerable to corruption and unhealthy practices.

"The two sessions have a special role to play in China's fight against corruption," said Li Chengyan, a professor at the School of Government in Peking University.

"Every year, the Party and the government will take effective measures after the two sessions, as a response to social concerns. The people and the media's focus on anti-graft work will push the government to solve relevant problems," he said.

According to experts, however, what's more important is to put in place a sound system concerning anti-corruption, promote reform and ensure the implementation of existing measures.

Source:Xinhua
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