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Thursday, December 28, 2000, updated at 19:29(GMT+8)

China Slams Bribery to Stamp Out Corruption

A local government official, named Zhang Lizu, in east China's Jiangxi province was sentenced to one year imprisonment for offering bribes to former deputy governor Hu Changqing.

During the past month, altogether eight bribery cases concerning Hu, have been dealt with respectively in Jiangxi, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

It is the first time over the past few years that bribery cases have been tried publicly on such a large scale.

Observers said it shows the increased efforts by the Chinese government to combat bribery crimes, and stamp out corruption from the root.

Hu Changqing was given the death sentence in last March under three charges. But the direct fuse to the capital punishment lies in his pocketing more than 5 million yuan in bribes between 1995 and 1999.

In exchange for the money, Hu wrote special offers for the bribers, providing them with lucrative business or profitable jobs.

Because they accepted bribes, quite a few senior Chinese officials were thrown out of their posts this year, including Cheng Kejie, former vice-chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, which aroused attention to bribery crimes in entire Chinese society and the circle of law.

"As a dangerous social evil, bribery greatly erodes governments and the society at large," said Zhao Dengju, deputy procurator with the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China (SPP).

Legal experts took offering bribery, accepting bribery and finally dereliction of duty as a "crime chain," said Yang Zhejing, a law professor with the Provincial Supreme Court of Jiangxi, claiming that bribery crime is "a vicious tumor most apt to proliferate on the hotbed of corruption."

China is right now wielding a sharp sword against such a "vicious tumor."

First of all, China started to tighten the punishment for offering or accepting bribes. Bribery criminals have been subjected to five years in prison for light infringement and as far as life imprisonment for severe illegal acts since the implementation of the revised Criminal Law in 1997.

In contrast, even most serious bribery criminals only got three years in prison.

Moreover, the SPP has listed combating against bribery crimes as one of its most important annual missions, promising to "punish adamantly by the law criminals offering bribery to government officials."

Zhao stressed that the SPP will oversee the investigation and charging of suspects, officials above the county level in particular, in cases involving bribes worth over 500,000 yuan.

On the SPP's top list of investigations are those cases involving offering bribes to smuggling objects, counterfeiting and committing tax or foreign currency fraud.

The efforts by procuratorates at all levels across the country paid off. A total of 1,199 bribery cases were investigated from January to November this year, compared with 837 in 1998 and 984 in 1999.

Among them, the number of major cases involving over 50,000 yuan reached 609 this year, compared with 313 in 1998 and 442 in 1999. The average amount of capital involved in a single case rose from 80,000 yuan in 1998 to 160,000 this year.

Reforms and opening-up, which started in China in the late of 1978, improved Chinese people's living standard, but corruption tendency was growing as well.

Many criminals now offer officials not only money or jewelry, but also stock shares, autos, overseas travel and even sex.

Public concern over corruption has heightened to an unprecedented degree. An anti-corruption film titled "Live or Die" has dwarfed Hollywood productions in box revenue.

Besides legal reforms, China is also devoted to the establishment of a fair play principal for its market economy, as well as the reform of official appointment.

"So long as bribers are punished severely by the law like this, corruption can be taken under control shortly," said Zhou Wenying, a local official who was present at the open trial of the briber.

In This Section

A local government official, named Zhang Lizu, in east China's Jiangxi province was sentenced to one year imprisonment for offering bribes to former deputy governor Hu Changqing.

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