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Public upset over plan to give punished officials an opportunity to resume positions of responsibility

(Global Times)    08:26, September 13, 2018

Local governments in Central China's Hubei Province have launched a campaign to provide a path for sanctioned officials to resume their careers.

Analysts hailed it as a positive move to reduce the losses of talented officials for work mistakes, especially under the country's intensified accountability mechanism.

However, the campaign has met with strong opposition from the public, who believed that selecting officials for promotion from people who have been sanctioned is demoralizing and will hurt the credibility of government.

Fall from grace

"I thought that the organization [Communist Party of China] would never consider me," Xie Shoulian told the Nanfang Daily on August 15. A month ago, Xie was promoted to be a committee member of the Party Working Committee of Zhongshan street in Jingzhou, Hubei.

This is exceptional because in October 2016, Xie received a warning from the Party due to work negligence, and was removed from his position as a committee member. In July this year, he was allowed to go back to his leadership role after the punishment period expired.

According to a notice published by the city's disciplinary watchdog, since 2016, a total of 35 officials, including Xie, resumed their positions or got promoted after being punished.

The notice was released after the watchdog released a regulation on management and education of punished officials in April 2016. It stipulated that Party organizations are obliged to allocate officials to help and educate punished officials one on one.

Under the regulation, a team was established to check if officials who had been punished understood their faults. Meanwhile, the team conducted an assessment on their performance in new positions.

After the period of punishment expires, those who adjusted their attitudes, are extremely talented, have excellent work performance or boldly shouldered responsibilities have a second chance to be promoted.

Apart from Jingzhou, other cities in Hubei also released similar regulations. According to a report published by the Hubei Daily in May 2017, some 84 officials in the city of Huanggang, who were given Party or discipline punishment due to work mistakes, resumed positions of responsibility.

Work errors

Ye Qing, deputy director of the statistics bureau of Hubei, told the Global Times on Monday that "as China has intensified its efforts to establishing an accountability mechanism, a large number of officials, especially those at lower-levels, have been punished due to work negligence."

For example, some officials in charge of environmental protection have been punished for a lack of supervision, Ye said.

"However, those talented people should not be discarded by the Party on account of one mistake," Ye said. "The punishment is necessary but it should not be a burden for the rest of their life and they deserve another chance to go back to the office and continue serving the public."

Ye hailed the regulations as a positive move to make the process of their recovery more transparent. Ye's opinion was echoed by Ren Jianming, an anti-corruption expert at Beihang University, who said that it would be a great loss if the Party abandoned officials just because of one punishment. Ren is a special supervisor hired by the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Ren told the Global Times on Monday that China's regulations on the recruitment and management of officials and civil servants stipulate that when the period of punishment ends, officials would have a chance to come back.

"Hubei's regulations will make the process of officials' comeback more open to the public so as to prevent covert deals," said Ren.

Ren noted that the rehabilitation of punished officials has been criticized by the public because the public is poorly informed. "Actually, the officials who were expelled from public positions and the Party, and those who were convicted of crimes, have no chance to be officials again," he said.

The rehabilitation of punished officials has long been disapproved of by the public. An online poll conducted by in 2009 showed that 83 percent of 11,702 users oppose rehabilitation and claimed that the country should guarantee its authority over the accountability mechanism. The public warned not to turn the mechanism into a method to shield some officials from the consequences of their bad behaviors.

It is widely known that some officials removed from their positions in a high profile way would end up being quietly transferred to somewhere else.

Despite Hubei's new regulations, some people still question the feasibility of rehabilitating tarnished officials. An article published on on August 25 questioned who will ensure the justice and effectiveness of the feedback and assessment that allows the return of punished officials.

The article said it is a high risk to reuse punished officials instead of promoting clean ones.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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