Tough stance on corruption wins praise

2024-01-19 08:17:00China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The Communist Party of China's efforts over the past 10 years to severely punish misconduct and corruption that occur "at people's doorsteps" have led to an increase in the sense of gain and happiness among the people, observers said.

During the third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which was concluded on Jan 10, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered an important speech.

Xi, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, called for advancing the Party's self-reform and winning the tough and protracted battle against corruption.

He emphasized the importance of maintaining a tough stance against corruption and said that firm action must be taken to deal with corrupt low-ranking officials, so that the people can have a stronger sense of gain.

Under Xi's leadership, an overwhelming victory has been achieved in the fight against corruption, with the reports of the 19th National Congress of the CPC in 2017 and the 20th National Congress of the CPC in 2022 highlighting the intensification of efforts to address corruption issues affecting the people and to punish grassroots corruption.

Zhang Zhisheng, a 48-year-old deliveryman from Henan province who works in Beijing, has noticed improvements in the health sector as the result of a nationwide anti-corruption campaign in the past few years.

He said that once, about a decade ago, he had been asked for bribes when seeking medical treatment for family members. Describing such behavior as abhorrent, Zhang said fewer doctors dare to accept bribes nowadays.

"The positive changes should be attributed to the intensified supervision and anti-corruption efforts," he said. "This prevents ordinary people from suffering."

The health sector has been a key focus for anti-corruption efforts in recent years, with many hospital leaders placed under investigation.

In March, Luo Yong, the former president of Tanzhou People's Hospital in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, was placed under investigation on suspicion of accepting bribes and kickbacks totaling almost 30 million yuan ($4.2 million). Luo stood trial in June, with the court verdict pending.

According to disciplinary agencies in Guangdong, Luo's removal from office in November 2022 resulted in significant reductions in the costs of hospital procurement and outpatient treatment, with the average cost of an outpatient visit falling 16.6 percent.

Such corruption "at people's doorsteps" affected their daily lives and mainly occurred in areas such as employment, education, healthcare, social security, environmental protection, workplace safety and law enforcement, according to an article on the CCDI's website. Always a concern, such corruption included embezzlement, diversion, misappropriation and coercive practices, the article said.

Yang Weidong, a professor at the Institute of Rule of Law at China University of Political Science and Law, said that sternly punishing corruption at the grassroots level is a further implementation of the anti-corruption agenda outlined in the report of the 20th National Congress of the CPC.

Such corruption often involved lower-ranking officials, such as village chiefs, and smaller sums, but it could directly affect the welfare of the public, he said.

Yang said China has a vast number of grassroots cadres, and corruption at that level has a more direct and stronger societal impact. Mishandling such issues could undermine popular support for the Party's governance and damage the credibility of the Party and the government.

"Corruption at the grassroots level, which affects the daily lives of the people, is more detested by the public than corruption involving high-ranking officials," he said.

As Xi has said, the ultimate purpose of the CPC is to serve the people wholeheartedly, and as the CPC owes its governing status to the support of the people, it must maintain its flesh-and-blood relations with the people.

"The CPC does not operate in a vacuum, so it has unavoidably found itself with problems of one kind or another. Corruption is such a persistent one," Xi told The Wall Street Journal in September 2015. He said the people hated corruption more than anything else, and action was needed to allay their concerns.

While wielding a heavy hand against high-ranking corrupt officials, Xi has also demanded severe punishment for corruption at the grassroots level, so that the people can truly perceive the Party's original aspiration and mission in exercising full and strict self-governance.

Yang said that simultaneously targeting high-ranking officials, known as tigers, and grassroots officials, known as flies, signified a deepening of the anti-corruption struggle.

It ensured the rectification of working methods and corruption issues at the grassroots level, which was crucial for guaranteeing the public's direct sense of gain, he said.

To expand on the achievements in combating corruption, Yang suggested leveraging the role of democratic systems at the grassroots level, such as soliciting public opinion on funding allocations and significant decisions. Additionally, operational mechanisms related to areas touching on people's livelihoods should be refined, based on the potential corruption risks, to prevent malfeasance.

The article on the CCDI website also highlighted the importance of continuing to strengthen supervision of policies benefiting the people, rectifying corruption in the field of people's livelihoods, and enhancing the people's sense of gain, happiness and security.

Wang Yongjun, the head of the Shanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection, outlined the province's efforts to comprehensively rectify corruption issues and malpractices in rural vitalization.

Focusing on project and fund management in key counties, Shanxi's discipline inspection authorities have emphasized cracking down on embezzlement, extortion and the withholding and diversion of funds to respond to the expectations and concerns of the people.

"We will continue to rectify prominent issues harming the interests of the people, focusing on eliminating negative phenomena at the grassroots level and promoting the genuine benefits of development for the vast majority of the people," Wang said.


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