Death penalty for corrupt ex-mayor establishes rule of law

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/28 22:38:41

Zhang Zhongsheng, former vice city mayor of Lüliang in Shanxi Province, was sentenced to death Wednesday for taking bribes of 1.04 billion yuan ($159 million) by the Intermediate People's Court in the Shanxi Province city of Linfen. It was the first death penalty for corruption since the 18th National Party Congress and mirrored the determination of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on comprehensively promoting the rule of law in governance.

One can comprehend the Party's anti-corruption campaign and its future trend from the judgment on Zhang.

At the beginning of this century, China entered the golden age of coal. The economy of Lüliang skyrocketed thanks to its abundant coking coal. Shanxi Province was promoting mergers and reorganization in the coal industry mostly among local private enterprises.

But this seemingly market-oriented behavior was soon twisted by local officials. In the scramble for resources, private entrepreneurs started seeking policy concessions and market access through bribery. Zhang was the biggest winner among those raking in the dough.

According to the court, Zhang used his position to seek benefits for bribe payers through intervening in Lüliang's economic development, severely infringed the integrity of Chinese officials, damaged their reputation, caused grave social impacts in not only Shanxi Province but the entire nation and inflicted particularly heavy losses on the State and people. Therefore the court handed down the ultimate punishment.

Many foreigners do not understand why Beijing won't abolish its death penalty. The reason can be found in the nation's relevant policy: China retains the punishment, but it must be strictly controlled and prudently operated. In other words, it can be scarcely put into practice, but its existence as the ultimate deterrent is needed. Zhang's penalty is bound to have a warning effect.

Zhang was only a vice mayor, but was involved in gigantic bribery. This demonstrated the necessity and significance of the Party's anti-corruption efforts since the 18th National Party Congress. The Party's crackdown on corruption will be long lasting, arduous and complicated, but ceaseless.

Zhang's sentence showed the system, rules and laws of China's anti-graft drive are growing normal and the fight against corruption is gathering unstoppable momentum. Respect for the law, fear of discipline and abiding by the regulations are being consolidated in the mind-set of officials at all levels.

How did China realize law-based governance? Zhang's case just provided an answer.

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