BEIJING, Feb. 12 -- As China's anti-corruption campaign picks up momentum, those charged with rooting out graft are themselves being placed under increasing scrutiny.
On Tuesday, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee publicized 10 cases of disciplinary or legal violations by police officers, judges and prosecutors.
"This sends a signal: the disciplinary as well as the political and legal systems are not a sanctuary [in China's anti-corruption campaign]," said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
The cases include a Supreme People's Court official suspected of taking bribes of over 2 million yuan (327,493 U.S. dollars) in exchange for intervening with trials; a prosecutor in central China's Shanxi Province charged with taking bribes and failing to explain the sources of assets worth over 40 million yuan and 1.8 kg of gold; and a Ministry of Public Security director suspected of taking advantage of his position to benefit others, and accepting bribes of more than 2.23 million yuan.
Publicizing cases is a first for the commission. Previously, corrupt political and legal officials were named and shamed within their own circles.
Only a day before, four discipline officials who worked for the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) were reported to have been punished for breaking laws and Party anti-graft guidelines.
In the most serious case, Wu Qiang from east China's Jiangxi Province was stripped of his CPC membership and expelled from public office for drunk driving and killing a pedestrian in 2013.
In another incident, Wu Jimian from central China's Hubei Province was prosecuted for killing a hotel worker and injuring two others while driving a police car after leaving a banquet.
Shen Wanhao from north China's Hebei Province was dismissed from his post for beating another discipline official during a banquet.
The fourth official, Ren Jiangang from north China's Shanxi Province, received a Party warning for holding banquets to commemorate his father's death and accepting 7,900 yuan in cash.
While these cases may not constitute the powerful "tigers" the CPC vowed to take down in the fresh anti-graft drive, they nevertheless sound an alarm for disciplinary, political and legal officials, said Xin, who added that anti-graft bodies would be more effective and powerful once they fix their internal problems.
"Officials of the discipline, political and legal systems are fighters against corruption and guardians of justice... They cannot do their job if they themselves are crooked," he said.
His comments were echoed by Wang Yukai, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, who added that such public naming and shaming could improve the image of anti-graft bodies and tempt the public to be more actively involved in the campaign.
"By exposing their 'skeletons in the closet,' the discipline as well as the political and legal systems are signaling that they would not cover up their own mistakes and would remove the 'black sheep' from within," Wang said.
Fighting corruption has been on the front pages of many newspapers since Chinese President Xi Jinping became CPC leader in November 2012.
Addressing the third plenary session of the CCDI in January, Xi described corruption as "a disease that calls for powerful drugs". He stressed zero tolerance of graft and promised to seriously punish every corrupt official.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday also pledged to combat corruption, boost government transparency and build a clean government when presiding over a meeting of the State Council, or China's cabinet, to map out this year's anti-graft plans.
Since 2012, the Party has targeted both "tigers" and "flies".
A total of 31 high-profile officials were investigated by the CCDI in 2013, including Jiang Jiemin, former head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, and Li Dongsheng, former vice minister of public security.
Nationwide, about 182,000 officials were punished by the CPC's discipline inspection agencies.
To ratchet up the pressure on officials, the CCDI updated its website in September. It now has a feature where the public can provide tip-offs, as well as a naming and shaming section. Many lower-level anti-graft agencies have followed suit.
But sadly, corruption is still far from rooted out, even within the disciplinary and judicial systems, with cases of bribery, adultery and graft often igniting public outrage.
"Law enforcement staff usually break the rules while they are fully aware that they have done wrong, and the negative impact on society is much greater," Zhou Hanhua, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Xinhua.
These cases damage the image of governments and law enforcement organs, posing a grave threat to fairness and justice, he said, adding that "the black sheep in law enforcement must be eradicated."
Noting that the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs has promised to continue the practice of naming and shaming, Zhou said such a high-profile campaign is truly necessary.
He said the publicity these cases generate should be a warning for all staff in the political and legal realms.