Li vows to crack down on corruption

Updated: 2013-03-18 02:40

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang vowed to crack down on corruption and practice frugality in government affairs, while meeting journalists on Sunday.

The Chinese government has unshakable resolve and determination to fight corruption, and the government will ensure that power will be exercised in an open and transparent fashion, Li said at a news conference after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Congress.

Li vows to crack down on corruption

"Corruption and the nature of our government are water and fire," Li said.

He has required government officials to give up all thoughts of making money and accept supervision from all of society and the media.

"Since ancient times, holding government office and making money have been two separate paths," he said.

Li made three commitments to cut expenses: New government buildings will not be built; the number of people on the government payroll will be reduced; and expenses of official hospitality, official vehicles, and overseas trips for official business will decrease.

Li pledged that the central government will set an example to win the people's trust by practicing frugality, and all lower levels of the government must follow suit.

The central government's fiscal revenue only increased by 1.6 percent in January and February of this year, and the fast growth of fiscal revenues will be ended, he said.

"If the people are to live a good life, their government must be put on a tight budget," he said, adding that expenses on people's livelihoods will not be cut.

The government will establish an anti-graft mechanism so that officials dare not and are unable to practice corruption, he said.

"Power will be exercised in an open and transparent fashion," he said, "so that we can insulate power against possibilities of abuse."

Anti-corruption has been one of the most heated topics among NPC deputies during this year's session, which opened on March 5 and ended on Sunday.

Han Jianmin, an NPC deputy and also member of the standing committee of China Democratic League, said that anti-corruption authorities should be granted with more power to supervise officials.

"It's difficult to supervise first-hand officials in Party and government bodies since they have overwhelming power and the local anti-corruption authorities are administrated by them," she said.

Cai Ning, an NPC deputy and also head of Henan Provincial People's Procuratorate, said high-level officials should not be exempt from punishment in anti-corruption practices.

"We should not only beat the flies (low-level officials), but also combat with tigers (high-level officials)," Cai said, adding that the local judicial authorities have probed 90 officials of department levels and above in the past five years.

Authorities have promoted efficiency in investigating corrupt officials since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, when the Party's new leaders were elected four months ago, said Zhou Shuzhen, a professor of anti-graft research at Renmin University of China.

Lei Zhengfu, former Party chief of a district in Chongqing municipality, was dismissed three days after an online post exposed him of appearing in a sex video in November.

Zhou said that although the central authorities have vowed resolutely to crack down on corruption, it remains an arduous task.

Zhou spoke highly of the "eight-code measures" of improving work style, which was put forward by the Party's Central Committee late last year in an effort to get close to the people.

"The measures have changed the atmosphere among the official circles to some extent, and public expenses can be cut since many officials no longer have lavish public banquets," she said.