Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Day Packed with Corruption News

Left: wanted corrupt Yunnan official Hu Xing

Right: new province chief of Yunnan:
Qin Guangrong

The Chinese media on Wednesday seemed to be packed with news about corruption, and at least three of them made headlines on the front page of, one of the biggest gateway websites in China.

Foremost is the news that the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Chinese Communist Party announced foul plays in local governments’ term exchange processes, such as bribing for office and appointing officials’ relatives to party posts.

Change of officials in the Party is generally not through popular election, but appointment by upper level party branches, a big opportunity for many people to seek higher offices or just to get into the ruling system.

The Central Disciplinary Commission found 121 cases nationwide of misconducts in last year's term exchange processes, disciplined more than 190 officials and removed over 600 persons from offices inappropriatly appointed to them, Xinhua reported.

Another news is about the on-going investigation of the social security fund embezzlement in Shanghai, for which the city’s former leader Chen Liangyu was sacked. On Wednesday, chief of Shanghai Procuratorate Wu Guangyu told local People’s Congress that seven people, two government officials and five company executives, are under investigation, China News Service reported.

On the same day, Mr. Wu’s counterpart in Zhejiang, Mr. Chen Yunlong reported to his provincial legislators that more than 100 officials at the county and above levels were sacked for bribery, power abuse and other misconducts in office in the past year, Xinhua reported.

Still another big anti-corruption news is the issuing of the order for arrest, with 50,000 yuan reward, of deputy chief of the transportation department of Yunnan province.

Hu Xing, 49, is suspected of concealing booty and perjury in relation to an “extraordinary economic crime,” according to a local newspaper. Hu has run away. There are speculations among the pubic that Hu is involved in something much more serious than concealing booty and perjury, otherwise he would not have to flee.

News about anti-corruption is important in the Party’s publicity strategy, because it is something the Chinese people are most concerned about and for which the Party is most criticized. But the Party’s propaganda machine would not just paint a picture of corrupt officials everywhere. Instead, it managed to publicize a story haling an apparently upright official among the cluster of bad news.

The exemplified official was the new province chief of Yunnan, the same province the wanted corrupt official Hu Xing served. Qin Guangrong, 56, was elected by Yunnan People’s Congress as the province chief on Wednesday. He pledged to the legislation body that he will “be decent as a person, be clean as an official,” and do every good for the people.

It might be a coincidence that so many corruption related news made into the media on the same day, but it should be noted that it is now the season for local governments to review their jobs in the past year, including their anti-corruption efforts. It should be no surprise to see more of such news in the coming weeks.

----by Josie Liu

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