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Vice Premier Orders Food, Drug System Reforms

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi on Tuesday asked China's food and drug authorities to improve anti-graft measures and remove administrative loopholes to repair their battered image.

"We urgently need to reform the system to remove loopholes in food and drug administration and set up an effective mechanism for clean governance," Wu told a meeting of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

Wu ordered the SFDA to focus on five tasks this year, centering around regulating the use of executive power:

-- reform the food and drug approval mechanism to make sure that the processes of accepting, appraising and approving new drug applications are carried out separately; the system of job responsibility and accountability should be enhanced;

-- cut government red tape, including the process of approving new drugs and medical equipment;

-- improve supervision and restrictions on administrative power;

-- strengthen anti-graft measures;

-- improve capacity building of leaders and officials.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month ordered a thorough investigation into allegations of corruption against Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the SFDA.

Although details of Zheng's case have yet to be made public, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communist Party said earlier that "Zheng neglected his duty to supervise the drug market, abused the administration's drug approval authority by taking bribes and turned a blind eye to malpractice by relatives and subordinate officials."

Wu said corruption cases like Zheng's were in the minority and China's food and drug administrative team, in general, was "good".

(Xinhua News Agency February 14, 2007)

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