BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Almost 20,000 Chinese officials have been punished for breaches of a set of anti-bureaucracy rules announced one year ago, China's discipline watchdog said on Monday.
The officials at different levels were found to have been involved in 17,380 cases and had been punished by administrative or Party discipline agencies during the campaign by the end of October, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The "eight-point" anti-bureaucracy and formalism rules were introduced at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Dec. 4 in 2012. They ask CPC officials to reduce pomp, ceremony, bureaucratic visits and meetings.
Since the election of the new leadership, the CPC has launched a series of campaigns to eliminate bureaucracy, formalism and lavish spending of public funds.
Before the Mid-Autumn Festival in September and the seven-day National Day Holiday in early October, the CCDI issued a circular urging officials to refrain from luxurious banquets and gift-giving.
The CCDI received 917 tips-offs about official decadence during the two holidays.
The suspected violations include use of public funds for gift-giving, dining and travel unrelated to official duties, expensive recreational activities, violations of official car use and handing out unnecessary bonuses, according to the CCDI.
Banquet orders at some upscale hotels have seen a steep decline compared with booming pre-holiday business in past years, partially due to the CPC's anti-extravagance campaign.
"A total of 100,000 yuan (16,410 US. dollars) has been saved as the so-called annual meeting has been canceled this year," a government official surnamed Liu in east China's Shandong province told Xinhua.
GRASSROOTS VIOLATIONS STILL SERIOUS
Despite the achievements in the CPC's anti-extravagance drive, grassroots officials are still considered the most at risk for violations of the "eight-point" rules.
Statistics from the CCDI showed that nearly 99 percent of the violations found by the CCDI involved prefecture- or township-level officials.
The discipline watchdog in northwest China's Gansu province has exposed ten typical violations, including civil servants playing games during working hours.
Most of the officials who have received punishments are at or below prefecture-level, the CCDI added.
"It's hard for township-level officials to fulfill supervisory duties as discipline inspection staff at that level is largely insufficient," said Xue Qingchao, a researcher with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, adding that there are only two to three officials in some township governments.
STEPPED-UP EFFORTS NEEDED
Experts and officials called for more efforts to step up supervision and punishment in order to eradicate such violations and further improve officials' working style.
"What the masses are concerned with most is whether the eight-point rules will be further enhanced and implemented," said Wang Shiyi, an anti-corruption expert of the provincial party school in east China's Jiangsu Province.
"Supervision from the public should play a bigger role in further promoting the campaign and building a clean government," said Li Songyu, dean of the institute of public administration at Shandong Normal University.
"The vitality and authoritativeness of any regulation lie in its implementation," said Ma Huaide, vice president of China University of Political Science and Law, adding that anyone who has violated the rules should be held accountable.
The enforcement of the rules can be ensured only by officials' improved awareness and adherence to the regulations, according to Ma.
In order to prevent the resurgence of extravagance, Ma called for strict supervision by discipline agencies and the media.