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China Vows to Root Out Corruption After Exposing Election Fraud

China (CNGDPYOY)’s ruling Communist Party vowed to curb corruption and enforce party discipline following an official media report that hundreds of regional lawmakers accepted bribes and dozens committed electoral fraud.

A total of 512 delegates in the People’s Congress in Hengyang city in Hunan province resigned yesterday after they were found to have taken bribes, Xinhua News Agency said yesterday, citing the municipal lawmaking body. Another 56 provincial-level congress delegates from Hengyang were found to have used more than 110 million yuan ($18 million) to win their elections, Xinhua said. The elections were declared invalid, according to the agency.

Reports of the scandal came after the removal of Ren Huguo, chairman of Hengyang’s municipal People’s Congress, from his role, for “violation of discipline,” which was announced on the website of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection on Dec. 18. Another official Tong Mingqian, former party secretary of Hengyang, was “directly responsible” for the corruption, according to the Xinhua report. It didn’t name Ren or any other officials.

Chinese authorities are stepping up a crackdown on bribes in moves that underscore President Xi Jinping’s determination to root out graft. Targeting those Xi has described as both “tigers and flies” -- cadres at the top and bottom of the power ladder -- may help bolster the party’s image as economic expansion slows and public discontent over corruption increases.

Severe Punishment

The Hengyang electoral fraud showed “rampant violations” of rules and law, the official communist party newspaper People’s Daily said in a commentary yesterday following the Xinhua report. “Thorough investigations and severe punishment must be done to maintain the party’s reverence and the people’s trust in the country’s fundamental political system,” it said.

The scandal was also broadcast yesterday on the state-controlled China Central Television.

China’s new Communist Party leadership, headed by Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, took office in November 2012 in a once-a-decade power transition. In a speech to the Politburo after taking over as party general secretary, Xi told his fellow leaders that unless they address corruption, social unrest may rise and lead to the demise of the party.

Corruption was third among the public’s top 10 concerns in 2013, up from seventh in 2012, according to a survey by the website of People’s Daily carried out every March before the National People’s Congress.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nerys Avery at navery2@bloomberg.net

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