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China closes gaps in anti-corruption fight

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-22 16:54
BEIJING - Major reform of China's anti-corruption system will close the gaps in supervision and streamline investigation processes.

China announced late last year that it was setting up a state supervisory commission to merge agencies and departments involved in anti-corruption work. Beijing, and the provinces of Shanxi and Zhejiang are piloting the reform. Provincial commissions will be set up by March and grassroots branches by June. Commission directors have already been elected by local people's congresses.

The new commission integrates the supervision department and corruption prevention bureau, along with divisions handling bribery, dereliction of duty and prevention of duty crime.

Wang Yukai with the Chinese Academy of Governance said the commission chiefs were already the heads of local commissions for discipline inspection. Other top posts will be occupied by senior members of local commissions for discipline inspection and relevant procuratorates' leading officials.

The two commissions will share office space and consolidate party and state work in fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.

Lyu Xiaodong, a local anti-graft commission member in Zhejiang Province expects the new body to deal with non-party members who are not under the jurisdiction of the CPC watchdog.

Beijing's supervision department director Li Zhenqi said the new commission will expand oversight to cover anyone who exercises public power, even without a governmental post, including villagers' committees, local people's congresses, public hospitals and schools.

"The reform closes the gaps in graft supervision," said Lyu. "All people holding public posts will be subject to the commission's authority."

China stepped up anti-corruption work after the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. More than four years on, the top leadership announced that the battle against corruption had gained "crushing momentum." In 2016, a total of 48 former provincial-level officials were prosecuted.

The Chinese Academy of Governance's Wang said the commission will both investigate and impose penalties, with powers of surveillance, and the rights to summon suspects and witnesses for interrogation, restrict movement and freeze assets.

Vice president of the China University of Political Science and Law Ma Huaide said the fact that the commissions will absorb some procuratorate functions will help in their investigations.

A database of all public employees will soon be established, the scope for passing information on to authorities increased, and inspection teams sent out routinely to give the new institute more teeth.

Member of Beijing municipal people's congress Liu Weilin said that based on the experiences of the pilot, changes will be required to several national laws. State supervision legislation is currently under consideration by the National People's Congress.

A system of checks and balances will ensure members of the commission stay clean themselves, answering to the people's congresses.
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