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China Opens Hotline for Tips on Quake Relief Misuse

China's top disciplinary body set up a hotline (10-59592947) on Wednesday for the public to report suspected wrongdoing in the management and use of earthquake relief resources.

The hotline will operate around the clock, said the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the Ministry of Supervision (MOS).

Government funding plus private donations to date for earthquake relief has exceeded 100 billion yuan (about US$14.5 billion).

The two authorities urged subordinate agencies to follow up thoroughly on leads from the public and make the cracking of individual cases "a major method" of promoting quake relief fund supervision and anti-corruption efforts.

So far, local Sichuan discipline inspection and supervisory departments have punished 41 CPC members and officials, including eight county-level officials for malpractice in quake relief.

The top anti-graft official of the CPC, He Guoqiang, earlier vowed to ensure "clean" disaster relief work and to impose "quick, strict and harsh penalties" on those found withholding or embezzling funds and supplies.

Once misconduct was detected, it must be dealt with quickly and harshly and fully disclosed, he said, adding that dereliction of duty would also be severely punished.

The CCDI and MOS later published a special statute to provide penalties for malpractice and fraud involving relief for the May 12 earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province. The earthquake took nearly 70,000 lives, injured hundreds of thousands and left another 17,415 missing.

In addition, millions of people lost their homes, possessions, jobs and businesses and face months if not years of living in temporary shelters.

Beginning on May 30, the CCDI and the MOS sent two inspection teams to quake donation recipients including government departments, social groups and the worst-hit Sichuan Province.

An unprecedented amount of funds and donations poured into the quake zone.

As of Wednesday noon, the government disaster relief fund had reached 54.22 billion yuan, including 49.55 billion yuan from the central budget and 4.68 billion yuan from the local budget, figures from the State Council Information Office showed.

Domestic and foreign donations had reached 45.94 billion yuan in cash and goods, of which 15.35 billion yuan had been forwarded to the quake zone.

(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2008)

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- Tight Supervision Urged over Use of Quake Relief Resources
- China Issues Statute on Fraud Involving Quake Relief
- Top Anti-graft Official Vows 'Quick', 'Harsh' Penalties on Embezzlement in Quake Relief

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