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China seizes on Olympic fair play
By David Lague (IHT.com)
Updated: 2005-09-30 08:49

China has introduced measures to fight corruption in preparing the Beijing Olympics in 2008 that could become a blueprint for a wider campaign against graft, according to international anticorruption experts.

An aerial view of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games venues in this undated file photo. Games organizers said on Tuseday that venue construction for the Games is under way smoothly. [photocome]

In cooperation with international advisers, the Chinese government has instituted a range of procedures to minimize the potential for corruption in contracts for the Games, which it estimates will be worth up to $16 billion.

These include more frequent audits of spending, last-minute selection of experts to decide on contract bids to reduce the possibility of bribery, threats of blacklisting for corrupt contractors, the opening of tenders to public scrutiny on the Internet and establishing public hot lines for public complaints.

For a country where rapid economic growth and massive infrastructure spending over more than two decades have led to numerous government scandals involving bribery, embezzlement and kickbacks, staging a high-profile international event such as the Olympics has become a test case for the ability of the Communist Party to combat corruption.

"If it works successfully, China would like to use it as a framework for national guidelines on big infrastructure projects," said Janos Bertok, an expert on corruption in China at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Speaking this week on the sidelines of an anti-corruption conference in Beijing organized by the Asian Development Bank and the OECD, Bertok said the Chinese authorities planned to carry out a study into all preventative measures, from awarding construction and procurement contracts for the Olympics through to ticket distribution. The findings would be a factor in deciding if the measures could be applied to other major projects.
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