By Jiang Jie
(People’s Daily, Global Times)
BEIJING: The Chairman of China’s top political advisory body on Tuesday called for unwavering efforts to crack down on corruption, with analysts believing that the remarks send a positive signal of more active participation in the nation’s sweeping anti-graft campaign.
It is the first time in two decades that anti-corruption was mentioned in the annual work report of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), after some of its senior members have been investigated for corruption.
“The CPPCC should work to improve the integrity of its members and continue fighting corruption,” announced CPPCC Chairman Yu Zhengsheng at the third session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee that opened on Tuesday.
Presenting the work report of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the CPPCC, Yu pointed out that there were some deficiencies in last year’s work of the political advisory body. In particular, he cited the expulsion of 14 national political advisors due to corruption, including former vice chairmen of the CPPCC National Committee Ling Jihua and Su Rong.
“The CPPCC is often the last stop of many leaders from departments of real power before they retire. Therefore some corrupt members can hide themselves away in it. In this regard, the CPPCC can’t distance itself from the anti-graft campaign,” Cheng Wenhao, director of the Anti-Corruption Research Center at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.
Another anti-graft expert, Deng Lianfan from the Law Society of Hunan Province, told the Global Times Tuesday that the CPPCC’s participation in the anti-graft campaign would complement the ongoing campaign which has lacked an emphasis of the role of political advisors and lawmakers.
“Unlike National People’s Congress deputies, few CPPCC members take up key posts in government bodies, which can better guarantee their supervision of the authorities. They can also get a better picture of society, as they come from different occupations across the nation,” Deng noted.
CPPCC Standing Committee member Ge Jianxiong revealed that he, along with some 90 members of the CPPCC, had objected to Ling Jihua’s nomination for CPPCC vice chairman in 2013 when Ling was head of the United Front Work Department.
Ling was removed from the post and was stripped of his CPPCC membership in February after he was brought under investigation for “suspected serious disciplinary violation” in 2014.
“There was talk that corrupt officials would be first removed from their key posts before they were brought under investigation … Judging from the facts we now know, we could have offered chances for people to discuss their different opinions [of Ling’s nomination] in order to combat corruption,” Ge told the Global Times.
Ge also suggested changing the way the CPPCC votes so as to protect members’ privacy over their choices, which will help guarantee participation and democracy.
“The CPPCC is not a hideout for corrupt elements … China’s anti-corruption efforts have no limit or ceiling and no one has immunity,” Lü Xinhua, a CPPCC spokesperson told reporters at a Monday press conference in Beijing.
China‘s anti-graft chief Wang Qishan made a rare appeal in August 2014 to urge political advisors to help promote the anti-corruption drive by offering suggestions and implementing democratic supervision, which Deng referred to as a “landmark” meeting indicating strengthened supervision role of the CPPCC.
In a blueprint of political advisors’ work in 2015, Yu also urged CPPCC members to offer advice and suggestions on reform and the rule of law.
He said that the CPPCC will also conduct thorough investigations and studies on key topics, such as the Silk Road and Belt initiatives and air pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, to provide reference materials for the Party and the government in their decision making.
Yu also supported the appeal of CPPCC members from Hong Kong to promote the local government’s rule of law and praised their active role in promoting legal political reforms