China targets police graft in welfare-linked ID system

Updated: 2015-03-25 18:58


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BEIJING - A total of 176 police officers and 57 temporarily contracted staff have been punished for issuing illegitimate ID certificates for citizens seeking extra government entitlement, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The violators, including 64 who were criminally charged, were uncovered during a three-year campaign launched in 2014 to clean up duplicated ID numbers and multiple residence registrations, according to a Wednesday statement.

"Some were honest mistakes from manual errors or separated police management systems in the past, but others were the result of police officers illegally using professional privilege to seek benefits for their connections," Vice Minister Huang Ming told Xinhua.

In China, various social benefits, such as medical insurance and access to basic education, are allocated based on ID certificates and residence permits, also known as "hukou" and supposed to be unique and updated in line with a citizen's long-term work and living locations.

For instance, one who has registered an urban hukou without having the previous rural residence permit written off gets to keep farmer-exclusive benefits such as land for cultivation while also enjoying full city welfare programs.

"Police officers abusing their positions to issue counterfeit IDs or hukous will be dismissed from their posts, without exceptions," Huang said.

Addressing the fact that other people's ID cards have been used to commit crimes, Huang noted that a database of lost or stolen ID cards will be shared between financial, telecommunications, railway and aviation organizations by the end of 2015 in a bid to seize anyone using such IDs.

The campaign saw the number of citizens having the same ID numbers reduced to 486 from 1.68 million in 2009, and 2.5 million hukous that were either duplicated or invalid have been liquidated.

Police detained 313 suspects and lodged 238 cases involving production and sale of counterfeit hukous during the campaign, Huang said.

He called for an intensified crackdown on the trade and unlawful use of "phantom IDs."

"Our aim is to ensure a unique ID number and a single residence registration for each and every citizen by the end of 2016," Huang said.