Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
(C) speaks at the annual State Council anti-graft conference, in
Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2007. (Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao on Friday announced the measures his government will take in the new year
to check corruption, targeting in particular unnecessary red tape, collusion
between officials and businessmen, extravagance and waste.
Addressing an annual State Council anti-graft
conference, Wen told officials that there are many obstacles in the drive to
build a clean government. A series of major corruption cases have been exposed
and there is a "serious" problem of officials abusing their posts or colluding
with businessmen to make profits.
"A handful of graft cases involving high ranking
officials have had a very negative impact on society," Wen said. "Waste and
extravagance are rampant among officials and some issues concerning common
people's immediate interests remained unsolved."
Wen ordered focusing on five tasks this year,
centering around regulating the use of executive power:
-- cut government red tape, including the process of
approving projects and issuing various certificates.
-- continue the fight against commercial bribery;
-- curb the widespread trend of building and
renovating government offices against regulations;
-- promote a thrifty lifestyle;
-- and solve problems of particular concern to the
public, including issues concerning housing, medical care, and food safety.
Wen vowed greater efforts in fighting collusion
between officials and businessmen in commercial bribery, especially in cases
concerning construction projects, land leases, purchase of pharmaceuticals, and
exploitation of natural resources.
On construction of government offices, Wen said
departments which already have suitable offices are not allowed to buy new
offices or expand their buildings. And any government office construction deemed
as waste or inappropriate should be stopped or delayed immediately.
"Leaders of various levels of governments should take
the lead in the anti-graft drive. They should strictly ensure that their family
members, friends, and close subordinates do not abuse government influence," Wen
Wen last month ordered a thorough investigation into
allegations of corruption against Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the State
Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).
Zheng failed to properly supervise the drug market,
abused the administration's drug approval authority by taking bribes and turned
a blind eye to malpractice by relatives and subordinate officials, said a notice
released by the Party's discipline watchdog.
China's widely publicized anti-graft fight has led to
the downfall of a number of high-profile corrupt officials in recent months.
Many were found to be enjoying cozy ties with business tycoons who supplied them
with extravagant gifts and prostitutes.
Last year's snowballing Shanghai pension funds
scandal began with the arrest of business tycoon Zhang Rongkun, whose company
was found to have received illicit loans from a company under Shanghai's labor
and social security bureau.
The investigation brought down Shanghai's former
party chief Chen Liangyu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist
Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and later the state's top statistician
Qiu was expelled from the Communist Party for "taking
bribes from company owners, leading a dissolute life and bigamy".
The central government has asked officials to
simplify their lifestyles and shun people who try to take advantage of their
influence by offering them money, lavish banquets or sexual favors.
"Recent history shows that an official's moral
erosion often starts with drinking, dining and vulgar entertainment, in which
sex is often involved," said a newspaper comment.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
(CCDI) of the CPC has also highlighted "government officials' collusion with
business people" in its battle against corruption this year.
The central government has noticed that behind each
corrupt official lurks a business big-shot. Some media reports have accused
local officials of "finding a sugar daddy".
Many sentenced corrupt officials were in cahoots with
private businesses and their "intimate relationships" severely damaged public
The CCDI has vowed to step up measures to punish
officials who abuse their position to obtain benefits for their spouses,
children and relatives and to sever unsavory links between officials and
Since 2003, more than 67,000 government officials
have been punished for corruption, with more than 17,500 prosecuted and
sentenced in the first eight months of 2006.