China Prepares New Plan to Fight Graft That Threatens Its Image

China Prepares New Plan to Fight Graft That Threatens Its Image
A portrait of Mao Zedong, former leader of China, hangs at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

China will impose a new five-year plan to tackle corruption, as the Communist Party seeks to crack down on an issue that risks tarnishing its legitimacy ahead of a leadership transition later this year.

“The work of constructing a system of punishing and preventing corruption has shown to be effective,” He Guoqiang, head of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said yesterday, according to the People’s Daily newspaper.

The plan is part of broader efforts to burnish the party’s image before the once-a-decade leadership transition. China’s leaders are seeking to recover from a series of scandals including the downfall of former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, and Premier Wen Jiabao warned in March that corruption could endanger the government’s survival.

“In the past ten years, the more they fight corruption, the more plans and agencies they set up, the worse the corruption gets,” said Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. “A truly clean government comes from the rule of law.”

He, a member of the powerful Politburo standing committee, announced the anti-corruption campaign at a meeting where officials reviewed the previous five-year plan, according to the People’s Daily report.

Ant-Graft Measures

The government has announced several anti-graft measures this year, including a ban on spending public money on luxury goods and lavish receptions.

Railway Minister Liu Zhijun was ousted in 2011 and later stripped of his Communist Party membership over allegations of bribe-taking. Xie Pengfei, the deputy secretary general of Guangdong province, was removed for violations of party discipline, the Xinhua News Agency reported Aug. 20, citing the province’s anti-graft watchdog.

In March, Wen called for an end to using public funds to purchase cigarettes and “high-end” alcohol, as a widening wealth gap has fueled public outrage over official malfeasance. The state-run CNTV website reported in July China will ban officials from consuming shark fin at government expense within three years.

— With assistance by Yidi Zhao

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