63,000 officials punished in anti-graft drive last year in China

World Sunday 12/March/2017 13:24 PM
By: Times News Service
63,000 officials punished in anti-graft drive last year in China

Beijing: China said on March 12, 2017 (Sunday) that its politically significant anti-graft drive gained a "crushing momentum" last year as 63,000 officials were punished with the number of prosecutions increasing by one third from 2015.
China is in the middle of a sweeping campaign against corruption which targets both high-ranking "tigers" and lowly "flies". Last year, the central authorities announced that the campaign had "gained crushing momentum", a report of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) presented to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) said.
China's court system concluded 45,000 graft cases in 2016, implicating 63,000 people, the report presented by Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said.
The defendants included 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefectural level, he said.
Officials say that the number of prosecutions increased by one third compared to 2015.
Last year, state-run Global Times reported that over 1.01 million officials have been punished since anti-corruption campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping in 2013 in a bid to restore public confidence in the Communist Party of China's (CPC) rule and avert a Soviet Union-style collapse of the party's control over the country.
The campaign netted top political figures like Zhou Yongkong, the former national security chief under the previous regime headed by Hu Jintao, besides some of the high- ranking military figures.
Over 40 high-ranking military officials have been prosecuted in the country's biggest anti-graft drive, which also drew criticism that Xi made use of it to weed out his rivals in the party.
Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, along with other top leaders, were present when the Supreme Court's work report was presented on Sunday.
The Procurator-General Cao Jianming in his report to the NPC said procurators had investigated 47,650 people for their suspected involvement in duty-related crimes last year.
Procurators also investigated 17,410 lower level officials suspected of corruption in land expropriation and demolition, social security, management of agriculture-related funds and other issues concerning the people's well-being, Cao said.
The crackdown also covered dissidents and "illegal" religious leaders.
Last year, Chinese courts also convicted a number of people on charges of subverting state power, including Zhou Shifeng, a lawyer who formerly managed the Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, and Hu Shigen, an illegal church leader.
Meanwhile, China's top statistician said anyone caught falsifying economic data would face zero tolerance and be punished under the law.
There has long been scepticism about the reliability of Chinese data, especially as the government has sought to reduce expectations of a protracted slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
In January, the "rustbelt" northeastern province of Liaoning said in its annual work report it had falsified reporting of fiscal data from 2011 to 2014.
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament, Ning Jizhe, head of the National Statistics Bureau, said violations would be investigated and punished.
"As soon as there are statistical cases that break the law or faked, it will be voted down, there will be zero tolerance, no appeasement," said Ning, who is also Vice Chairman of the planning body the National Development and Reform Commission.
The combined economic output of China's provinces has long exceeded national output measured by the National Bureau of Statistics, raising suspicions that local officials were overstating performance.
The gap has been narrowing, but the discrepancy between provincial GDP and the national figure was still 2.76 trillion yuan ($399.71 billion) last year, roughly equal to the GDP of Thailand, according to a Reuters calculation.