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UPDATED: January 17, 2011 NO. 3 JANUARY 20, 2011
Tightening Rules on Power

A total of 146,517 officials across China were punished for disciplinary violations in 2010, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC). During the year, discipline watchdogs received nearly 1.43 million petitions and tips and recovered 8.97 billion yuan ($1.35 billion).

More importantly, efforts to enhance legislative and institutional checks on corruption made new headway. This has become not only the growing consensus in China, but also a priority for the government and the ruling party. Last year, a host of anti-corruption laws and regulations were put into action. They included a package of rules spelling out the dos and don'ts for the CPC and government officials, the new Administrative Supervision Law and regulations on auditing officials' economic responsibilities.

China's first anti-corruption white paper released in December 2010 says the country has gradually established an effective legal framework to combat corruption and promote clean governance. It is made up of laws such as the Civil Service Law, the Administrative License Law and the Law on the Supervision of Standing Committees of People's Congresses at All Levels, and the CPC's regulations on intra-Party supervision and inspection and disciplinary sanctions.

Speaking at a plenary session of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, President Hu Jintao, also the Party's General Secretary, pledged to "combat graft strictly and punish corrupt officials severely" so as to win trust from the people.

Hu said greater efforts should be made to investigate graft in key industries and posts. He also underlined supervision of procedures concerning promotion of local officials to prevent abuse of power or other corrupt conduct.

Practices in many other countries show that the most effective way to curb corruption is to put power under strict restraint and supervision. Measures such as establishing a household assets declaration system and a real-name financial transaction system are also crucial to the process. China can and should learn from them.

Stringent regulations alone are, of course, not enough to eliminate power-for-money deals and prevent vulnerable officials from becoming corrupt. Supervisory departments must do more to enforce existing laws and disciplinary regulations more effectively, and monitor officials' exercise of their power more closely. In addition, as the white paper says, supervision by the general public and public opinion, including online efforts, should become part of the power restraint and supervisory system. This is significant in carrying out democratic supervision in diverse forms and putting legislative and institutional checks on corruption thoroughly into practice.

A survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics shows 83.8 percent of Chinese think corruption had been reined in to varying extents in 2010. Although China still has a long way to go in its fight against corruption, the situation will very likely continue improving, with constant progress in the country's anti-corruption legislation and institutions.

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