Use supervision to sharpen anti-graft drive

Updated: 2014-07-19 06:47

By Zhang Zhouxiang(China Daily)

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By July 14, 35 officials at the ministerial level or above had been removed from their posts on charges of corruption, with the senior-most being Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.

Xu's high-profile case saw commentators from the traditional as well as social and new media expressing their views on corrupt officials and the central leadership's campaign against corruption. Many media outlets said the fact that the move against such a high-profile official came on the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China reflects the top leadership's determination to root out corruption from society.

"Rarely since the founding of the republic have so many officials at so high levels been probed for corruption," said an article on "Corruption is something that can threaten the Party's rule and it is time to curb the trend."

The People's Daily compared the campaign against corruption to a surgery undertaken by the Party to rid itself of a disease. It is hard, but a patient suffering from cancer needs to do it for his or her very survival, it said. The high military post that Xu held and the possibility of serious corruption within the army, as his case revealed, were the points that media commentators highlighted.

Since 2014 marks the 120 anniversary of the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, which changed the power balance between China and Japan, many analysts said that rampant corruption in the then Chinese army and government was the main cause of China's failure. "A corrupt army is nothing against its opponent; that's a clear historical lesson not to be forgotten," said Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV.

In an article published on, retired military officer Zeng Ziping reviewed the Chinese army's past efforts to fight corruption and criticized the military's old practice of evading supervision on the pretext of safeguarding State secrets, which he said had led to failures in the past. "Justice in the army must be supported by transparency and China's military modernization should start with that," he wrote.

In an interview with, the website of People's Daily, political theorist Ren Jianming said Xu got a large part of his bribes for promoting unqualified officers in the military. "Selling ranks" is a typical corrupt practice in the military, he said and called for reforming the military promotion mechanism.

Some media outlets sought a thorough investigation into the case to find out how a corrupt officer like Xu could occupy such a high post in the military, and urged higher authorities to take stricter preventive measures. An article on appealed to the leadership to follow judicial procedures in the fight against corruption and emphasized the importance of the rule of law, while Southern Weekly said: "A healthy, strong civil society and an open, tolerant opinion environment can ... be efficient resources for improving social governance ... (and this) is the ... (best) way of rooting out corruption."

A letter from Teng Xuyuan, Xu's classmate in college, got widespread attention on the Internet. In the letter, Teng talked about Xu's days in college, and about how hardworking and self-disciplined he was during his initial years with the military. Xu even refused to install an air-conditioner at home despite being drenched in perspiration in summer, Teng wrote, lauding his classmate's honesty early in his career.

"I don't think my classmate Xu Caihou was born evil", Teng said. "It was lack of supervision over power that gave him the chance of (indulging in) corruption. Of course, he alone is responsible for his misdeeds. But where were the supervisors when he was being promoted ... all the way to the last post? Had the disciplinary officials forgotten their duty? There are tons of anti-corruption regulations. Are they all scraps of waste paper?"

"Had there been enough democratic supervision to shut power in the cage, maybe we wouldn't see so many corrupt officials ... (I) hope a profound reform would save more officials from going astray."

The need, therefore, is to wield supervision as a weapon to win the fight against corruption.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

(China Daily 07/19/2014 page5)