Tackling Corruption in Ten Aspects That Impact Everyday Life

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 15:33
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The effort to improve Party conduct and ensure clean government at the grassroots level represents an important aspect of grassroots Party building and the strengthening of state power in China, playing a fundamental and extremely important role in the overall effort to improve Party conduct, ensure clean government, and combat corruption. Working earnestly to implement the requirements and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee, we must devote major efforts to improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level, work hard to tackle corruption in aspects that have a bearing on everyday life, and strive to benefit the people and earn their trust through constant achievements in the effort to combat corruption and ensure clean government.

I. The importance and urgency of improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level and tackling corruption in aspects of everyday life

In recent years, the CPC Central Committee has made increased efforts to crack down on major cases of corruption, particularly cases involving the violation of disciplinary codes and the law by mid- and high-ranking cadres. Meanwhile, the CPC Central Committee has frequently emphasized the need for enhanced efforts to improve Party conduct and ensure clean government at the grassroots level, and to tackle corruption in aspects that impact people’s everyday lives, and has set forth a series of important working arrangements in this regard. This approach is based on several considerations. The first consideration is the nature and purpose of the Communist Party of China. The CPC is a Marxist political party whose mission is to serve the people whole-heartedly. The nature and purpose of the Party dictate that it is staunchly opposed to all forms of corruption. The Party’s efforts to improve Party conduct and ensure clean government at the grassroots level and tackle corruption in aspects of everyday life are specific manifestations of its principles of putting people first and exercising power for the benefit of the people. These are important measures that must be taken to maintain and develop the advanced nature and purity of the Party. The second consideration is the position and role that grassroots Party organizations and Party member cadres play in the affairs of the Party and the state. The grassroots organizations of the CPC constitute the foundation of the Party’s overall initiatives and effectiveness. They are the bastions of the Party in grassroots social organizations. Grassroots Party member cadres, on the other hand, represent the backbone of the Party’s governance at the grassroots level, serving as a bond that links the Party and the government to the people. We rely on our large numbers of grassroots Party organizations and Party member cadres to lead the people in fulfilling the lines, principles, policies, and various tasks of the Party and the state. We also rely on them to reflect and safeguard the opinions, appeals, and interests of the people. The only way that the CPC can consolidate its foundations and fulfill the missions of its governance is by hammering its foundations solid at the grassroots, improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level, and tackling corruption in aspects that have a bearing on people in their everyday life. The third consideration is the current phase of China’s reform and development. At present, China is undergoing a key stage of reform and an important period of opportunity for development. At the same time, this is also a period in which social problems are becoming increasingly prominent. People are becoming more conscious of democracy, the law, and their rights, and more sensitive to issues that have a bearing on their personal interests and social equality. Public disturbances have taken place at certain places in China over recent years. Although the causes of such events have been extremely complex, a common theme has been tension in the relations between officials and the public, and the infringement of the rights and interests of the public. This sends an even clearer message that only by improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level, working hard to tackle corruption in aspects that have a bearing on everyday life, and strengthening the bonds that link the Party to the people will we be able to adapt to new situations, conform to new expectations, cope with new challenges, maintain social equality and justice, and promote social harmony and stability. The fourth consideration is the harm that corruption in aspects of everyday life causes. The impact of corruption is seen and felt most directly by the people, and this means that they have the first say when it comes to this issue. People’s attitudes towards the Party and the government are often shaped by the words and deeds of their local Party member cadres. Corruption in aspects of daily life directly infringes upon people’s immediate interests. As a major source of discontent, it has become one of the major factors undermining relations between Party and government cadres and the public, and damaging the image of the Party and the government. We must place our focus where public sentiment is strongest, make changes where public dissatisfaction is highest, start where public expectation is greatest, and work conscientiously to tackle corruption in aspects that have a bearing on everyday life. Only then will we be able to benefit the people and win their trust through constant achievements in the effort to combat corruption and ensure clean government, increase public confidence in the fight against corruption, and win the trust, support, and endorsement of the people.

Lin Keqi (front left), a villager of Xiaowan Village, Aojiang Town, Lianjiang County of Fujian Province, checks up on village affairs using a touch screen terminal on August 16, 2011. Several years ago, in an effort to improve Party conduct and prevent corruption, authorities in Aojiang Town established an electronic enquiry system which allows local residents to monitor the status of collective funds, assets, and resources in rural areas of the town. Through this initiative, the town has effectively tied up loopholes that used to exist in the management of rural collective funds, assets, and resources, thereby promoting the harmonious development of rural areas. Simply by touching the screen on an electronic terminal, villagers are able to see every single item of public spending as well as the status of assets and resources in the village. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Zhang Guojun

Since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, we have identified improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level and tackling corruption in aspects of everyday life as important aspects of our discipline inspection initiatives. Requirements and guidelines in this regard are set forth every year at the plenary session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC. We have formulated and implemented a series of regulations such as guiding principles for clean government and regulations concerning the professional integrity of grassroots cadres in rural areas and senior officials in state-owned enterprises. We have also made continued efforts to tackle the arbitrary collection of fees in education, rectify unhealthy practices in the purchase and sale of medicines and the provision of medical services, reduce the financial burden of rural residents, and tackle the arbitrary establishment of highway toll stations and the arbitrary levying of highway fines and fees. In addition, we have also made good progress in our efforts to address problems such as overseas travel using public funds, the establishment of slush funds, embezzlement in construction projects, the unauthorized use of government vehicles, and the excessive holding of celebrations, seminars, and forums. On the whole, our Party organizations and our contingent of Party members and cadres remain sound and effective at the present. Our vast numbers of grassroots cadres have devoted themselves to their jobs, worked diligently behind the scenes, and made important contributions to reform, development, and stability in China. Many have demonstrated the advanced nature and purity of the Party through their actions, winning widespread praise from the people they serve. We have seen a large number of advanced models emerge from the grassroots, such as Shen Hao, Wang Ying, Li Linsen and Pan Zuoliang.

However, as our economic and social development continues at a rapid pace and the fight against corruption progresses to a deeper level, we must also be aware of the many new situations and problems that we are facing in the effort to improve Party conduct and ensure clean government at the grassroots level. Under this backdrop, the infringement of public interests owing to corruption has occurred from time to time.

As we set out to improve Party conduct and ensure clean government at the grassroots level and tackle the problem of corruption in aspects of everyday life, we must be aware that the situation is still grim, and that the task ahead is an arduous one. We must, therefore, view the importance and urgency of this task from a political perspective and with regard to our overall situation. With an enhanced sense of responsibility and urgency, we must give higher priority to this task, adopt more effective measures, and strive to achieve positive results through our dedicated efforts.

II. Taking resolute action against corruption in aspects of everyday life

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, discipline inspection and supervision agencies at all levels have maintained a high level of intensity in the investigation and handling of corruption cases since the convening of the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC. In addition to the investigation and handling of major cases of corruption, disciplinary authorities have taken action against a large number of corruption cases that have occurred in aspects closely related to everyday life, winning the full approval of the central government and praise from the public sphere. The severe punishment of corruption has served as a strong deterrent and a warning that has succeeded in constraining the spread of corruption in aspects of everyday life. Government departments in all localities must continue to give priority to the investigation and punishment of violations of the law and disciplinary codes at the grassroots level. Adhering to the principles of seeking truth from facts, acting in accordance with specific circumstances, laying stress on key points, and grasping key aspects, local authorities must act diligently in the investigation of corrupt practices that have a bearing on everyday life. They must ensure that each case is handled resolutely, and take stern action to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the public. Taking into account our own surveys as well as the feedback that we have received from the public, I feel that whilst we are making efforts to punish all forms of corruption, an emphasis should be placed on tackling corruption in 10 aspects that have a close bearing on everyday life. They are as follows:

1. Cracking down on corruption in regard to land requisition and the demolition of property. As the pace of industrialization and urbanization has increased in China, we have seen an increase in the infringement of people’s rights during the course of land requisition and property demolition. Malicious incidents in which lives have been lost due to violence in the requisition of land and demolition of property have occurred in some places, and have had an extremely negative social impact. For this reason, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision issued the Notice on Strengthening Supervision and Inspection and Further Standardizing Procedures for Land Requisition and Property Demolition last year, and have taken stern action to investigate, handle and expose a number of cases in which the forced demolition of property has resulted in the loss of life. In the future, further steps need to be taken to regulate the land requisition and property demolition process. We need to crack down on cases in which violence, threats, the severing of water and electricity supplies, and other illegal means are used to seize land and property by force; cases in which compensation is embezzled, intercepted, and misappropriated in violation of national polices and standards regarding compensation and relocation; and cases in which government officials collude with businesses and engage in power-for-money deals in the requisition of land and the demolition of property. We must be resolute in curbing the high-incidence of corruption during the course of land requisition and property demolition. At the same time, we also need to act conscientiously to solve problems in the building, distribution, operation, and management of low-income housing, and take resolute action to rectify practices such as the fraudulent purchase and rental of low-income housing and the welfare-oriented allocation of low-income housing in disguised form.

2. Cracking down on corruption in regard to the exploitation of mineral resources. As the demand for resources and energy to fuel our economic and social development has grown, the exploitation of mineral resources has not only provided a guarantee for local economic development, but has also become an attractive area of investment for various forms of capital, so much so that it has become highly prone to corruption. This has resulted in the serious disruption of mineral exploitation, the loss of state-owned and collective assets, the destruction of ecological environments, and the frequent occurrence of major accidents. We must adopt effective measures to crack down on cases in which prospecting and mining rights are awarded in violation of rules and regulations and in which illegal interests are sought through the integration of resources mining; cases in which mineral resources are sold at a low price or development plans are arbitrarily changed in violation of relevant regulations and procedures during the transfer process; cases in which local cadres violate codes of discipline and regulations by participating in the ownership of mines; and cases in which corruption has contributed to major safety accidents. We must act resolutely to address various forms of corruption in the exploitation of mineral resources.

3. Cracking down on the arbitrary collection of fees in education. In recent years, we have worked with the relevant departments to review and standardize the fees that schools collect, and positive progress has been made in this regard. However, in certain places and schools, the arbitrary collection of fees has continued despite repeated attempts to prevent this from happening. Moreover, the means by which schools collect fees have become more covert, and fees themselves have taken on many new guises. These indiscriminate charges have not only placed families under a heavy financial burden, but have also seriously damaged the image and prestige of schools. Therefore, in order to ensure that schools remain pure and sacred places for the education and cultivation of students, we must crack down on cases in which various kinds of schools, particularly those engaged in preschool education and the provision of compulsory education, collect unauthorized fees under various different pretexts; and cases in which schools seek illegitimate gains or accept bribes in regard to enrollment, bid tendering for construction projects, the purchase of teaching equipment, teaching materials and auxiliary materials, and logistical services. At this point, I would like to point out that last year we decided to allocate 16 billion yuan in subsidies from the central budget on an annual basis to improve the nutrition of school children in rural areas. This policy has been met with widespread praise from all circles of society, but there have also been concerns as to whether these funds will be properly managed and used. Therefore, relying on their Party spirit and good conscience, the relevant departments, organizations, and personnel must work meticulously and exercise strict supervision so as to convey the care of the Party and the government and ensure that every cent goes towards the nourishment of these children.

4. Cracking down on corruption in the purchase and sale of medicines and in the provision of medical services. In recent years, there has been a great deal of public concern over corrupt practices in medical care, such as medical workers taking bribes, over-prescribing medicines, and accepting rebates from pharmaceutical companies. Hospitals are the last line of defense for treating the sick and wounded and showing love and care for human life. Corruption among medical workers is not only detrimental to medical ethics and hospital reputations, but is also the cause of tension between medical workers and patients. Therefore, as we are working to deepen the reform of the health care system in the future, we must crack down on cases in which medical staff receive various forms of commission from medical fees and take bribes from patients; and cases where bribes are taken in the purchase of medicines and medical apparatus, in bid tendering for construction projects, and in projects involving cooperation. We must take solid action to address the high cost and difficulty of securing access to medical services, and safeguard people’s health-related rights as well as their legitimate interests.

5. Cracking down on corruption in the production and sale of fake foods and medicines. The safety of food and medicines has a bearing on the overall health and safety of the public. In recent years, we have worked with the related departments in the stern investigation and handling of cases involving tainted milk powder, clenbuterol hydrochloride, recycled cooking oil, and other safety incidents involving food and medicine. Recently, the media has exposed a scandal involving the manufacturing and use of toxic medicine capsules by some companies. This has left us shocked and angry. Therefore, we must intensify our efforts to punish such practices by cracking down on cases involving the manufacturing and sale of fake and inferior foods and medicines; cases in which serious consequences arise from negligence and dereliction of duty in the monitoring of food and medicine safety and from the indulgence of the manufacture and sale of fake and inferior foods and medicines; and cases in which farmers fall victim to the sale of fake and inferior seeds and agricultural supplies. By doing so, we will ensure that the public are at ease of mind over the safety of food and medicines.

6. Cracking down on cases of corruption in which the senior officials of state-owned enterprises infringe upon the interests of the state and collectives and the rights and interests of workers. Cases of corruption and bribery involving the senior officials of state-owned enterprises have been a frequent occurrence in recent years, not only causing heavy losses to state-owned assets, but also resulting in strong reactions from the public. We must take stock of these lessons by strictly implementing regulations concerning the professional integrity of senior officials in state-owned enterprises. Efforts must be made to crack down on cases in which senior officials in state-owned enterprises cause losses to state-owned assets due to the violation of collective decision-making rules (whereby major items for decision, major appointments and dismissals, major project arrangements, and major monetary transactions must be discussed collectively before a final decision is made); cases in which senior officials in state-owned enterprises conceal, seize, or transfer state-owned assets during the course of reorganization and restructuring, assets valuation, property rights transactions, capital operations, and business operations; cases in which senior officials in state-owned enterprises are involved in the operation of competing businesses, enter into connected transactions, and capitalize on inside information or commercial secrets for illicit gain; and cases of commercial bribery during the process of production and business operations.

7. Cracking down on cases of corruption in which grassroots cadres accept banquets and gifts, block procedures, extort money and goods, and take bribes. At present, there are certain cadres at the grassroots level who abuse their power, position, or profession for personal gain; accept banquets and gifts, block procedures, and extort money and goods; refuse to process administrative procedures unless bribes are given; and handle affairs in violation of regulations after having taken bribes. This is a serious problem, and there have been numerous reports and complaints from the public about such practices. The government has significantly increased its expenditure in public welfare in recent years. Under this backdrop, the relevant departments must conscientiously strengthen their supervision and monitoring efforts, and crack down on cases in which rural support funds, poverty alleviation funds, disaster relief funds, housing accumulation funds, and social security funds are embezzled, misappropriated, or diverted. At the same time, in an effort to curb the infringement of public interests owing to misconduct, we must crack down on cases in which grassroots cadres abuse their power for personal gain, solicit and accept bribes, and appropriate state and collective property; and cases in which grassroots cadres accept cash gifts, negotiable securities, and instruments of payment.

8. Cracking down on cases of corruption involving the denial of justice and the protection of Mafia-like gangs. In recent years, there have been cases in which a small minority of local cadres, judicial personnel, and law-enforcement personnel have colluded with Mafia-like gangs and run rampant. These occurrences are highly detrimental to social equality and justice, and pose a threat to our overall social stability. Therefore, in order to maintain the dignity of Party discipline and the laws of the state, we must crack down on cases in which grassroots cadres, especially judicial and law-enforcement personnel, deny justice, seek personal gain through the handling of cases, and pervert the course of justice through the collection of bribes; and cases in which grassroots cadres, judicial personnel, and law-enforcement personnel provide protection for Mafia-like gangs in exchange for cash and gifts.

9. Cracking down on cases of corruption in which grassroots cadres buy and sell official posts and rig elections through the buying of votes. The past two years have seen the election of new Party committees at all local levels throughout the country in close succession. During this process, we have observed a strict code of discipline, stepped up our monitoring and inspection efforts, and taken stern action to investigate, handle, and make public a number of cases in which disciplinary violations have occurred during the election of new Party committees. These efforts have ensured the smooth transition between old and new Party committees. In strict accordance with the requirements of the Central Committee, in the period ahead we will act resolutely to rectify unhealthy tendencies with regard to the election and appointment of personnel. To do this, we must crack down on corrupt practices in the appointment of grassroots personnel and in the election of Party committees, such as the buying and selling of official posts and the rigging of elections through the buying of votes. We must crack down on cases in which religious organizations, influential clans and families, and Mafia-like gangs interfere with, manipulate, and disrupt grassroots elections; and cases where disciplinary codes and regulations are violated in the recruitment of grassroots public servants through examination, in the recruitment of personnel for state-owned companies and government institutions, and in the selection of university graduates to serve as village officials.

10. Cracking down on cases of corruption in which grassroots cadres exhibit crude styles of work, dominate over the public, and lead extravagant or wasteful lifestyles. In view of the fact that there are certain cadres at the grassroots level who have bad working styles, handle affairs unfairly, and conduct themselves dishonestly, we must crack down on cases in which grassroots cadres cause heavy losses to the state, collectives, and members of the public owing to negligence of duty and the abuse of power; cases in which the crude working styles, stiff manner, and overbearing attitude of grassroots cadres towards the public lead to serious consequences; and cases in which the indulgence, extravagance, and wastefulness of grassroots cadres result in serious negative impacts.

Ⅲ. Establishing and improving a permanent mechanism to resolve the problem of corruption in aspects of everyday life

Improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level and addressing the problem of corruption in aspects of everyday life constitutes a long-term and highly complicated task. Not only must we address the symptoms of corruption through the intensification of punishment and prevention, but more importantly, we must attach importance to solving the problem at its source by establishing a permanent mechanism to effectively prevent problems from reoccurring.

First, we must enhance our education of cadres at the grassroots level. In view of the new circumstances and new problems that we are facing in the development of our contingent of grassroots cadres under the new situation, it is important that we effectively strengthen and improve the ideological and political education of our grassroots cadres. We must teach grassroots cadres to think, act, and work in line with the socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics, and especially the Scientific Outlook on Development, and remain closely aligned with the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary politically, ideologically and in their actions. We must guide grassroots cadres in developing a stronger Party spirit and a greater awareness of the rule of law; conscientiously abiding by the code of discipline of the Party and the laws of the state; handling affairs in strict accordance with laws, regulations and policies; and working constantly to become more adept at working with the public under the new situation and more adept in maintaining social stability and harmony. We must teach grassroots cadres to establish the notion of putting people first and governing to serve the people; to cultivate Party spirit; to establish and develop a fine working style; to staunchly resist unhealthy tendencies such as bureaucratic styles of work, formalism, fraudulence, and impetuousness; and to work sincerely, whole-heartedly, and pragmatically to benefit the people and solve their problems, and further strengthen the bonds between the Party and the people.

Second, we must strengthen our management of grassroots cadres. We must strengthen routine management; strengthen the system of democratic assessment and appraisal by the public; improve systems for the assessment, appraisal, and withdrawal of grassroots cadres; and exercise stringent management in all aspects related to the education and cultivation, selection and appointment, and supervision and management of grassroots cadres. We must enforce standard practices for the performance of duty and make particular efforts to regulate grassroots law-enforcement; standardize administrative discretion; and take resolute action to rectify crude attitudes and methods, unfairness in the handling of affairs, the abuse of power, and the seeking of personal gain in the name of serving the public during the course of law enforcement. We must strengthen the implementation of accountability systems; establish, improve, and strictly enforce accountability systems; and conscientiously implement various systems including the work post responsibility system, the system by which the first recipient of an enquiry is responsible for the following up of that enquiry, the system by which time limits are imposed on the handling of affairs, and the system for managing the performance of personnel. Where there have been serious infringements of people’s interests owing to a failure to perform or correctly perform duties, the leading cadres and personnel involved must be held accountable.

Third, we must strengthen the monitoring of grassroots cadres. We must improve mechanisms for monitoring and restraining the use of power; strictly implement provisions regarding performance and integrity reports, cautionary interviews, and written enquiries following complaints; intensify efforts to assess the performance and audit the economic responsibilities of grassroots cadres; deepen initiatives regarding the democratic appraisal of grassroots stations and offices and styles of work in departments and industries; and learn from the experiences of certain localities that have promoted the standardized operation of power at the grassroots level through the establishment of villager supervisory committees and the development of mechanisms to monitor village affairs. We must promote the transparency of grassroots affairs; combine efforts to publicize the affairs of grassroots Party organizations with efforts to make political affairs, judicial affairs, factory affairs, village and neighborhood affairs, and the affairs of public institutions open to the public; enhance the information that is made public; release information in a more effective manner; and make solid efforts to ensure that various powers are exercised openly at the grassroots level. We must give full play to the role of public supervision; combine supervision within the Party with external supervision, and supervision by specialist institutions with supervision by the public; widen the channels and improve the mechanisms for supervision by the public; attach importance to exerting the positive role of supervision by public opinion; do more to gather, analyze and process information, especially on the internet, pertaining to public opinion regarding the fight against corruption and the effort to ensure clean government; engage in concerted efforts in supervision; and enhance the actual effectiveness of supervision.

Fourth, we must improve various systems at the grassroots level. We must further improve the system for the management of collective funds, assets, and resources in villages, the system for the collective decision making of village committees and neighborhood committees, and system for the participation of villagers in the discussion of affairs, and promote the standardization and institutionalization of democratic management and supervision at the village level. We must further enhance the collective decision-making system and checks and balances system in state-owned enterprises; improve the system for the democratic management of enterprises with worker’s congresses at its core; and standardize remuneration management, incentive stock options, and position-related consumption for high-ranking officials in state-owned enterprises. We must further improve the management systems for public institutions such as schools and hospitals; develop the relevant professional standards; and enhance mechanisms for the restriction of power. We must improve the standard of management and services in urban communities by improving systems for residents to participate in the democratic discussion of official affairs and for important decisions to be made democratically. In addition to developing and improving various systems, we must demand that systems are strictly implemented, take stringent action to punish violations, increase our capacity for enforcement, and work to boost the effectiveness of various systems.

Fifth, we must promote the deepening of reforms. We must actively promote reforms in important areas and key aspects such as administrative approvals, cadres and personnel, finance and taxation, and investment and financing; promote and standardize the development of markets for the trading of public assets and resources at the grassroots level; actively yet prudently promote the reform of public institutions on a per-category basis; strengthen and make innovations in social administration; and make constant efforts to upturn the roots of corruption at the grassroots level.

Our vast ranks of grassroots cadres represent the front line of China’s efforts to promote reform and development and maintain stability. Their responsibilities are huge, their burdens are heavy, and their tasks are arduous. In addition to educating, managing, supervising, and imposing high requirements on grassroots cadres, we must also ensure that we genuinely value them and sincerely care about them. We must understand the difficulties that they face, make allowances for the hardships that they endure, and see to it that we afford them political consideration, support them in their work, assist them in their daily lives, provide them with mental support and encouragement, give full play to their enthusiasm and initiative, and provide them with favorable working environments and conditions.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.11, 2012)

Author: Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC

This is a shortened version of a speech made by the author on April 23, 2012 at a forum on improving Party conduct and ensuring clean government at the grassroots level.

  

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