138,867 officials punished in 3-year frugality campaign
Updated: 2015-12-04 15:07
BEIJING - When Deng Jianhua, a senior official with the political advisory body in Shaoguan city of South China's Guangdong province, was holding a lavish wedding banquet for his daughters, he didn't know he would be punished for violating China's 2012 frugality code months later.
On Dec 4, 2012, the newly elected leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) introduced eight-point rules to improve officials work style, showing its determination to fight the lingering problems of formalism and bureaucracy and reject extravagance among Party members.
"I didn't take the eight-point rules seriously. I thought it was just another government document full of empty talk. Now I regret what I have done," said Deng who was disciplined in September.
Three years have past since the austerity codes took effect. As of the end of October, some 104,900 violations have been reported nationwide and over 138,800 officials were subject to disciplinary action, CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced on Thursday.
The country's frugality rules have brought major changes to the minds of Chinese officials and Chinese politics and have been lauded by all Chinese.
A NEW BEGINNING
The eight-point rules, which were adopted only 20 days after the new CPC leaders were elected, have been dubbed by many as the beginning of CPC's effort on comprehensive and strict rule of the Party and combating corruption.
However, like Deng, many considered the new rules as rhetoric at first, until the CCDI exposed six violations for the first time on March 19, 2013.
The six cases involved using government vehicles for personal errands, providing unauthorized subsidies, using public money to hold extravagant receptions and travel, which used to be commonplace in the country.
"Only when people saw someone disciplined or demoted for violating austerity codes did they finally realize the importance of abiding by the rules and taking them seriously," said Xie Chuntao, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
AN UNREMITTING EFFORT
During the three-year adoption of the eight-point rules, the CCDI has introduced a series of measures to deal with the undesirable work habits.
Since August 2013, the country's top graft watchdog established a monthly reporting system to monitor the implementation of frugality rules nationwide.
The CCDI also exposed typical cases, naming and shaming violators ranging from village chiefs to provincial and ministerial level officials on its website.
They warned officials of distributing bonuses and giving and receiving illicit gifts in the name of holiday celebrations, increasing monitoring during holiday seasons.
In July, the CCDI unveiled a form on its website inviting the public to report excessive spending by officials.
However, CCDI statistics indicate much left to be done to correct officials' undesirable work habits.
Official data showed that 24,521 violations involving 30,420 officials were reported in 2013. The number increased as a total of 71,748 violators in 53,085 cases were disciplined in 2014.
From January to November this year, 27,328 cases were reported violating austerity codes and 36,699 officials were punished.
This year's data indicates drastic increases in violations of some kinds of wrongdoing compared with figures in 2014, such as the number of cases involving unauthorized spending, with public funds, on dining and traveling abroad has risen by 278 percent and 221 percent respectively.
In 2015, China called for increased vigilance as extravagance, formalism and bureaucracy takes on new forms not easy to detect.
"China has to keep working on improving the work style of officials through tougher implementation of the eight-point rules, which needs the participation of the public and all CPC members," said Gao Bo, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
A POSITIVE CHANGE
Zhu Mingan, a government official in Nanhu district of Jiaxing city located in East China's Zhejiang province, who used to finish work late every night, now enjoys dinner with his family everyday.
"The eight-point rules have removed my duties to dine with superior officials and accompany them in their inspection tours. Though still busy, I do like my job much more now," said Zhu.
By launching the frugality campaign, China called an end to pointless inspection tours, visits, meetings, circulars and media reports concerning high-ranking officials and asked officials to shun extravagance, saying there should be "no welcome banner, no red carpet, no floral arrangement or grand receptions" and "fewer traffic controls arranged" for officials' visits.
Besides, the eight-point rules have partially led to a cut in so-called "three public consumptions" of the Chinese central government in 2014.
Last year, the central government spent 5.88 billion yuan (about $947 million) on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions, down 1.27 billion yuan from the budgeted figure, according to a State Council report on central government final accounts revealed in June.
The change in work style of officials at all levels driven by the eight-point rules must have a positive impact upon that of the Party and government as a whole and on society in general, said Xie.
Echoing Xie's view, Zhu Lijia, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said it has also helped to re-establish the credentials of the CPC, the government and all officials among the public.
In October. the CPC released more comprehensive and stricter rules on disciplinary penalties and clean governance.
The two newly revised regulations and the pioneer eight-point rules together have offered a powerful mix of the country's efforts in combating corruption, said Zhu.
"The moves the country made for reforms and development will come in vain if Chinese people don't have faith in the Party as well as government," said Zhu.
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