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China toughens watch over watchers in anti-graft fight

Xinhua, January 10, 2017 Adjust font size:

Wei Jian was a senior official in the Communist Party of China's (CPC) top anti-graft body, until an investigation found he had taken bribes totaling tens of millions of yuan.

Wei, former director of the No. 4 office of discipline inspection and supervision of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), had participated in a number of investigations of guilty officials, including Bo Xilai.

Wei didn't imagine discipline inspectors like him would be inspected as well.

"Who would investigate the CCDI?" he said in a three-episode documentary titled "To Forge Iron, One Must Be Strong" that aired nationwide from Jan. 3 to 5 on China Central Television (CCTV), just ahead of a plenary session of the CCDI that ran from Jan. 6 to 8.

The documentary, jointly produced by CCTV and the CCDI, interviews Wei and several other guilty discipline inspectors and sheds light on enhanced discipline within China's anti-graft authorities.

The just-concluded plenary session deliberated and passed pilot work rules for discipline inspection organs, answering Wei's question: who is watching the watchers?


The new rules, which focus on inspection and discipline procedures, clarify procedures for the handling of cases, including the collection and verification of facts, case filing, case hearing, and how to dispose of money and goods involved in a case.

According to a communique released after the plenary session, doing discipline inspection work well is very important to the Party's 19th National Congress to be held in the second half of this year, and the new rules are part of inspection organs' work to strengthen Party discipline.

"The rules make every step of discipline inspectors' work more transparent and clear to the public, greatly reducing risk of misconduct," said Zhuang Deshui, an anti-corruption expert at Peking University.

According to the communique, this combines discipline within inspection organs with supervision within the Party and by the public, ensuring that the power to inspect will not be abused.


Four years after China launched a renewed fight against corruption since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the top leadership announced "the battle against corruption has gained crushing momentum."

In 2016, China launched prosecution proceedings against 48 former officials at the provincial level or above, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The accused include Ling Jihua and Su Rong, former vice chairmen of the country's top political advisory body, and Guo Boxiong, former top general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

A survey by China's State Statistics Bureau showed that 92.9 percent of people surveyed said they were satisfied with the anti-graft work in the Party and country in 2016, 17.9 percentage points higher than in 2012.

At the same time, 7,900 people from discipline inspection organs nationwide have received "Party disciplinary punishment" and 2,500 have been subject to "organizational punishment" since the 18th CPC National Congress for discipline violations, said Wu Yuliang, deputy secretary of the CCDI, during a press conference on Monday.

"Party disciplinary punishment" may include warnings, dismissal from Party positions, and expulsion from the Party, while "organizational punishment" is a category of penalties including demotion and dismissal.

Inspection of inspectors is urgently needed.

"Preventing the corrupted corners inside inspection organs from coming out requires self-discipline based on rules and institutions," Zhuang said.

Xie Chuntao, a professor with the CPC Central Committee Party School, said the new rules are an important institutional tool to improve internal operations of inspection organs.

"As China's anti-graft fight goes deeper, it is necessary to bring the power of inspectors into the cage of institution as well," Xie said.