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Premier Wen unveils anti-graft "new year resolution" 2007-02-09 20:32:03

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) speaks at the annual State Council anti-graft conference, in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2007. (Xinhua Photo) Photo Gallery>>>

    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 said.

    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 Xiaohua.

    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 interests.

    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 business people.

    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.

Editor: Yan Liang
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