February meeting of national anti-corruption body reveals the lack of support for move to compel party officials to declare their wealth
Monday, 15 April, 2013 [Updated: 07:22]
Hopes that China’s new leadership will crack down on corruption by forcing officials to disclose their assets appear to be in limbo, with no officials at a recent meeting of graft-busters backing such a move.
At the latest plenary meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in late February, attended by more than 200 anti-graft officials from around the nation, no one voiced support for the introduction of a national system requiring party officials to disclose their assets, a person at the meeting said.
“Many of the speakers at the meeting believed such a plan was impossible under the current circumstances,” the source said.
Public outrage at opaque government operations and the hidden wealth of party officials has been simmering for some time. Many Chinese believe government corruption threatens social stability and that an assets disclosure system is key to tackling graft.
However, the source said a CCDI official, who had done a series of interviews with Guangdong officials, had warned his colleagues that the disclosure of officials’ assets could lead to social unrest.
“He said that every official that he had talked to had an impressive amount of assets, and to publicise any of them would lead to public anger,” the source said, adding that CCDI deputy secretary Zhao Hongzhu heard the remarks but did not comment.
After the meeting, Xinhua released the text of a speech by Wang Qishan , CCDI’s head. Wang said Beijing was accelerating the drafting of a national anti-corruption law and would strengthen the supervision of civil servants with relatives living abroad.
The new leadership has said that fighting graft is among its priorities, with President Xi Jinping saying that government corruption is a threat to the party’s legitimacy. He promised to target both high- and low-ranking corrupt officials.
But some doubt Beijing’s sincerity in fighting corruption. Wang, known as a hardliner, said in January that the fight against graft had to deal with the symptoms initially in order to buy time to devise a long-term, systematic approach to addressing the root of the problem.
Many people had hoped that a new law requiring the disclosure of officials’ assets would be introduced at last month’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, but that did not happen.
Meanwhile, three media sources told the South China Morning Post that the mainland media had received a gag order before the meeting from Liu Qibao , the party’s top propaganda official. It banned them from asking questions about asset disclosure.
A senior producer with a major mainland television station, who read the gag order, said Liu asked the media to strictly follow the party’s line. Liu reportedly said that “public disclosure has nothing to do with media and they should not bother about it any more”.
Beijing-based historian Zhang Lifan said the main reason the curtains had been drawn on the push for assets disclosure was that it could undermine the legitimacy of the party’s grip on power.
“If the new leaders push party officials to give up the privileges of power too quickly, they also face the risk of losing support within the party,” Zhang said, adding that no individual was clean in a rotten system.
A Bloomberg investigation last year said that many of Xi’s relatives had gained from their association with him, accumulating some US$376 million in assets. But there is no indication that Xi had personally intervened to advance their business interests.
Du Guang , a retired professor at the Central Party School, said mainlanders had grown accustomed to ineffectual anti-graft campaigns, but they were now more determined to hold the government to account.
As such, they would lose confidence in the party if the top leaders fail to make progress on the disclosure of officials’ assets, Du said.
“I am a bit disappointed now,” Du said. “I have the feeling that without concrete steps, any anti-corruption pledges amount to lip service.”
However, Xia Jiajun, a former member of the NPC’s standing committee, said President Xi’s leadership team was still new and that the public need to be more patient in waiting for changes.
“I still believe this government is sincere in wanting to fight graft, but it is still too early to make judgments,” Xia said.
Source: SCMP “China graft-busters shy on disclosure of assets”
SCMP reports: “A senior district official in Chengdu has alleged that recently disgraced former Sichuan deputy party secretary Li Chuncheng offered bribes for promotion, sold official positions to incompetent candidates and made his wife head of Chengdu’s Red Cross after it received huge sums following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
“Legal Daily yesterday quoted Shen Yong, director of the Chengdu district’s United Front Work Department, as saying that Li had offered a huge bribe in the early 1990s to then-Heilongjiang deputy party boss Han Guizhi to win a promotion, had sold a large number of official positions after being appointed Chengdu’s party chief in 2003, and had made staggering profits by colluding with developers and pushing ahead with unnecessary city redevelopment projects.
“Han was given a suspended death penalty in 2005 for selling government jobs and corruption.
“The newspaper said Qu Songzhi, Li’s wife and deputy chairwoman of Chengdu’s Red Cross, was also being investigated for graft, together with four other Red Cross staff. However, mainland news portals were ordered to delete similar reports yesterday afternoon, because they ‘involved too many officials’.
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
“The Ministry of Railways reportedly detailed six major crimes allegedly committed by its former minister Liu Zhijun during an internal briefing on Friday.
“Liu allegedly committed serious economic crimes (such as taking hefty bribes), kept mistresses, and perpetrated political and moral wrongdoings, financial news magazine Caixin Century Weekly reported on its website yesterday, citing unidentified railway sector insiders.
“The ministry’s action signals that the graft investigation is nearing its end and that the judiciary process will soon commence.
“Most of the allegations were linked to Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao .
“Liu allegedly helped Ding win 3 billion yuan (US$471 million) worth of bids for projects involving the mainland’s multitrillion-yuan high-speed railway system.
“Liu was also said to be aware of middlemen making substantial illegal gains by helping contractors win such bids. For instance, Ding’s company had collected 10 million yuan from railway engineering firms as supposed ‘sponsorship’ fees for the seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail, hosted by the Railways Ministry in 2010.
“Caixin also said that Liu was accused of receiving bribes – including paintings and pieces of calligraphy – from four other officials. The total value remains unclear.
“Liu also stood accused of moral corruption that stems from his alleged “philandering with a number of women”, three of whom Ding introduced to him, Caixin said.”
According to xinhua.net, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission has reviewed the case of Tian Yueren, former Jilin Province’s vice governor and chairman of the board of directors of Jilin Bank, and decided upon approval by the party’s Central Committee to expel Tian from the party, remove all his public offices, confiscate all his proceeds from violation of discipline and transfer him to the judicial organ for suspected crimes.
Tian is said to have abused his power for other people’s benefits and received huge amounts of bribes.
SCMP says, “Shenzhen has released preliminary details on the local impact of a province-wide crackdown on corruption, claiming 146 government officials have been arrested since February on suspicion of involvement in cases of graft totalling 150 million yuan (US$23.6 million).”
Those arrested included 36 high-ranking officials – four at bureau head level and 32 at department head level – according to a report on the Shenzhen government’s official website.
“Another Guangdong city, Shantou, said on Tuesday that eight of its senior officials had been arrested during the crackdown, including the former chiefs of its transport, public security, urban planning and land agencies.”
“More than 1,000 party cadres and civil servants across the province have been investigated for graft so far.”
SCMP’s Teddy Ng reports from Beijing, according to People’s Daily, Yang Aijin, 63, former deputy mayor of Fuzhou from December 2007 to 2010, is being probed for amassing 17 properties and cash of 30 million yuan (US$5.55 million).
Yang was investigated because of accusation of Yang’s graft by a businessman who was his former confidant.
Ming Pao says in an exclusive report that Song Wendai, former chairman of board of directors of state-owned Qiankun Gold and Silver Refinery Joint Stock Company in Inner Mogolia, was suspected of stealing 60 kg gold, 1,400 kg silver and tens of millions yuan from the refinery. Forty detectives spent more than one year to crack his case and arrest that gold thief.
Hiding gold in an old car and sell stolen gold and silver in his own store
A report by xinhuanet.com says that Qiankun Company is an enterprise assigned by the central bank for refining gold and silver. In about 10 years when Song was in charge of the company, there has been incessant report and prosecution, but even the prosecutor was surprised that Song was a corrupt official that has not been found guilty in a hundred investigations.
In order to facilitation his graft, Song willfully make a mess of the company’s management and did not take stock for many years. It is difficult to prevent insider theft despite the company was watched day and night by armed police. Song even told his trusted followers to keep on bringing gold and silver to his home.
When Song was arrested, he was busy in preparing the opening of his own jewelry store to sell the gold and silver he had stolen. He hid the gold in a place so secret that almost no one could discover. It was stored in the trunk of a car parked in an underground car park in a small residential area in Beijing. He let the car be covered with thick dust to show that it had not been used for a long time.