Key sectors to remain targets of nation's anti-graft efforts
By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-08 09:06
Progress seen, but more needs to be done to ensure China's well-being, security
Sectors with a high concentration of power, funds and resources will continue to be the focal point of anti-corruption efforts, even as significant progress has been made in effectively curbing industrial and systemic corruption risks in the past year, experts said.
Last year, the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision disclosed that 45 officials under the management of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee were placed under disciplinary review and supervisory investigation. Among them were leaders at State-owned enterprises and in various sectors, including finance.
Chen Xuequan, a law professor at the University of International Business and Economics, stressed that the focus on key sectors is crucial in the nation's ongoing efforts to fight corruption and ensure strict governance over the Party.
Sectors such as finance, political and legal affairs, grain procurement and sales, and healthcare are vital for the nation's well-being and security, and require decisive action due to the concentration of funds and resources, making them prone to corruption, he said.
The goal of anti-graft in these fields is not only to uncover corruption and punish individuals but to identify and address the deep-rooted issues leading to corruption, including eliminating systemic loopholes, strengthening anti-corruption measures and promoting a culture of integrity to safeguard the high-quality development of these sectors, he said.
A communique issued after the second plenary session of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in January last year provided clear directives on the key issues and targets of the anticorruption work.
It announced a resolute crackdown on corruption combining political and economic issues. It emphasized intensified efforts to combat corruption in key areas and deepen rectification in State-owned enterprises and sectors with concentrated power, intensive capital and abundant resources such as finance, political and legal affairs, and grain procurement and sales.
The third plenary session of the CCDI is scheduled to be held from Monday to Wednesday in Beijing.
In addition, the CCDI and NCS assisted the CPC Central Committee in formulating the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group Work Plan (2023-27), which was released in September, further clarifying the key problems and targets of anticorruption, aiming to expand the depth and breadth of the work.
An article on the CCDI and NCS website said that, starting with the investigation and handling of key cases, discipline inspection and supervision authorities should focus on exploring the common characteristics and causes of systemic corruption within the aforementioned industries.
The authorities should adhere to the integrated approach of ensuring officials don't dare to, are unable to and have no desire to engage in corruption. Simultaneously, they should exert efforts in striving to transition from clearing individual cases and punishing key offenders to systematic rectification and overall industry governance improvement, the article said.
Taking the finance sector as an example, the first round of inspection launched by the 20th CPC Central Committee in March included a thorough review of selected financial institutions. There was an increase in both the number and frequency of anti-corruption efforts in the financial sector in 2023.
Last year, eight senior officials in the financial sector and under the management of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee were investigated, including Liu Liange, the former chairman of the Bank of China.
Liu became the first senior executive of a centrally administered financial enterprise to be investigated since the 20th National Congress of the CPC in October 2022. He was arrested on charges of taking bribes and illegal issuance of loans in October last year.
The number of financial professionals undergoing disciplinary review and supervisory investigation last year exceeded the previous year. Officials from all five State-owned banks — Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank — were investigated last year.
Furthermore, investigations extended to officials from insurers, securities institutions, financial groups, banking regulatory bodies, the central bank, the securities regulatory system and local financial management departments.
Chen, the law professor, highlighted that corruption issues in key areas are characterized by strong professionalism, heightened concealment and the high intelligence and education levels of offenders.
The offenders also have complex social relationships and strong anti-detection capabilities. These factors are behind the frequent occurrences of new and covert forms of corruption, he said.
"To address corruption within specific industries, it is crucial to respect industry norms, identify vulnerable points, enhance existing systems and strengthen the barriers that prevent corruption. Furthermore, there is a need to vigorously promote a culture of integrity within the industry, fostering an environment where individuals neither desire nor dare to engage in corrupt practices," he said.
Ji Yaping, head of the School of Administrative Law at the Northwest University of Political Science and Law, said that deepening anticorruption efforts requires a comprehensive yet focused approach. Such work should consider the impact and the cost and benefit to the nation, and anti-corruption efforts in key sectors could yield the highest returns, he added.
Ji noted that it is crucial to ensure that anti-corruption measures in these sectors do not adversely affect industry and societal development.
"Corruption in key sectors, particularly at the management level, ultimately stems from systemic vulnerabilities in the industries. Therefore, while combating corruption is important, prevention is even more critical. Identifying and addressing all potential points of corruption and systematically improving existing structures are essential to both curb corruption and plug these systemic loopholes," he said.
For instance, in the healthcare industry, anti-corruption efforts primarily target management levels rather than front-line medical professionals, he said. This approach has been widely welcomed by ordinary doctors, contributing positively to the industry's smooth development.
In a case revealed by the CCDI, a linear accelerator medical device with an import price of 15 million yuan ($2.11 million) was purchased by a hospital for 35.2 million yuan, with the hospital's director pocketing kickbacks amounting to 16 million yuan.
To further regulate the health sector, 14 central departments jointly issued a notice in May to rectify the irregularities in the procurement and sales of pharmaceuticals and medical services.
In July, 10 central departments launched a nationwide one-year operation targeting corruption issues in the health sector.