China to launch national anti-corruption bureau this year

HONG KONG, Reuters

China will launch a national anti-corruption bureau in the first half of this year, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Thursday, as the country pursues its drive against graft.

China’s leaders have made a priority of cracking down on corruption and in September President Hu Jintao scored a victory when he engineered the takedown of the powerful Communist Party leader of Shanghai over misuse of the city social security fund.

The party has described corruption, all but wiped out in the years after the Communists came to power in 1949, as being so serious it could threaten its rule and survival.

Plans on the scope, structure and staffing of the bureau had been submitted to the central government and the body was likely to start operating by mid-year, the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.

China already has several major anti-corruption bodies under the government and the Communist Party. A top Chinese official told the Beijing Youth Daily that the new organisation was intended to do more than investigate individual misdeeds.

“If we can strengthen work at the source, in institutions and systems, then the number of corruption cases can be dramatically reduced,” Chen Changzhi, of the Ministry of Supervision, told the paper. “That’s the major significance of establishing an anti-corruption bureau.”

The bureau would be jointly managed by the party’s internal watchdog, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission, and the Ministry of Supervision, the article said.

It would strengthen anti-graft education for officials, bolster the legal system’s ability to tackle corruption, and help to better monitor the use and abuse of power, the paper said.