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Corruption watchdogs to be given greater power

By Wu Gang and Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-15 2:08:01

The Communist Party of China (CPC)'s discipline watchdog on Wednesday called for "institutional design" of the so-called dual leadership of local discipline bodies, a move analysts said signals authorities' determination to enhance central power in fighting corruption of local officials.

Just a day after the CPC Central Committee concluded a widely watched plenum that deliberated comprehensive reform plans, the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said it will follow decisions made at the plenum, and will work to clarify and standardize the existing dual leadership system.

The current system, in which local Party discipline bodies are under the leadership of both local Party committees on the same level and the central discipline body, the CCDI, was enshrined in the 1982 Party constitution. But there is no clarification on when the local discipline bodies should listen to local Party committees and when to the CCDI.

In practice, the local discipline officials are often reluctant to carry out their work resolutely, as officials of local discipline bodies are mainly nominated by local Party committees.

"Many major corruption cases were dug out by upper-level discipline bodies, but they don't know the local officials as well as the local discipline bodies do," Wang Yukai, a professor specializing in public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times.

The situation has been changing in recent years. Among the 29 new heads of the provincial discipline commissions, about half were from the central authorities or other provinces, according to media reports.

A person close to the CCDI told the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper that this shows the central authorities have been taking back the power to assign local discipline officials, while the CCDI's statement on Wednesday to institutionalize the dual leadership system means the vague practice of the past will be written down so obligations and rights will be clarified.

Huang Weiping, director of the Contemporary Chinese Politics Research Institute at Shenzhen University, said the CCDI's statement sent a clear signal that it will strengthen its management of local discipline watchdogs.

The CCDI also said on Wednesday that it will extend the coverage of inspection tours to local authorities, making the tours cover all local governments, government departments, State-owned enterprises and public institutions.

Since 2001, the central Party authorities have been sending out inspection teams to collect information about local officials' possible wrongdoings. The frequency of such tours has been increasing in recent years.

Right after 10 inspection teams wrapped up their tours in late September and reported findings of corruption cases, another 10 teams were dispatched in October. The targets varied from provincial authorities in Shanxi and Guangdong to the State-owned Xinhua News Agency.

Liao Shaohua, Party chief of Zunyi in Guizhou Province, was held for further investigation on graft during the first round of inspection tours this year.

"As the system develops, the local discipline bodies will serve as standing watchdogs sent by the central authorities. Together with the regular inspection teams, the anti-corruption efforts will be largely enhanced," Huang said told the Global Times.

The CCDI said it will strengthen its efforts in investigating and punishing Party officials suspected of violations, asking discipline inspection commissions to address corruption issues.

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