There can be no exceptions

Updated: 2014-08-04 07:47

By Ren Jianming (China Daily)

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Status, position, relations or background should not be allowed to act as shields protecting corrupt officials from punishment

That Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has been placed under investigation for "serious disciplinary violations" is a landmark event in the history of anti-corruption in China's new era. It signals that China's new leadership's political resolve on anti-corruption has passed the first significant test. People can believe to a great extent that the leadership's determination to battle corruption is genuine and ongoing, which is good for deepening the anti-corruption work and finally achieving the construction of a clean government.

Making no exceptions in the fight against corruption is the most important rule in anti-corruption work. It's a simple principle, whereby people are judged only on whether he or she is corrupt or not, rather than his or her status, position, relations or background. This is the rule of law, in other words, everybody is equal under the law.

Since ancient times Chinese people have had the simple wish that "If a prince violates the law, he should be punished according to the law like any ordinary person". But in the whole of Chinese history, this simple wish has never really come true.

During the war and in the early years of New China after its founding in 1949, this principle was implemented for a while, unfortunately the authorities failed to adhere to it afterwards. In the new era of transformation and development, although senior officials reiterated that there would be no exceptions for Party discipline and the law, the reality has been less than satisfactory. Selective investigation due to some people's special backgrounds or high status has become a serious problem. Many believed that members of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee were exempt from being investigated and members of the CPC Central Committee were exempt from punishment no matter how serious their corruption.

Whether the principle of no exceptions can be adhered to makes a great difference to the deterrent effect of anti-corruption efforts, and is essential for a sense of fairness and sense of justice. It also affects the morale of the officials involved in the anti-graft campaign and the general public's confidence in the effectiveness of the campaign.

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