20,000 Govt Officials Punished in China’s Anti-Graft Drive

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 23, 2013 12:30 PM EST

China has punished some 20,000 government officials almost a year after it implemented its anti-graft campaign drive, according to a statement from the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection of the CPC, Communist Party of China's anti-graft watchdog.

And more are expected to get affected to the statistics culled as of end of October alone. During "democratic life meetings," where China's leaders were asked to criticise themselves and their colleagues, the officials found that they have indeed been greedy and selfish and not caring about people's well-being.

"When these people are punished, it brings enormous support for Xi Jinping's leadership," Ding Xueliang, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was quoted by Bloomberg. "Xi wants to use power to achieve things - he is the kind of individual who is trying to change the pattern of Chinese politics."

China's President Xi Jinping (2nd R) holds the hand of a patient (L), who was injured in the oil pipeline blast, as he visits a hospital in Qingdao, Shandong province November 24, 2013 in this picture provided by Xinhua News Agency. China has launched a broad investigation into safety at oil and gas pipelines, state media reported on Monday, as the death toll from an explosion at a Sinopec pipeline last week rose to 52. Picture taken November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Xinhua/Huang Jingwen

Since becoming party chief, Mr Xi has ordered the investigation of at least 15 ministerial-level officials.

The meetings were part of the government's mass line campaign to thoroughly clean up the party to weed out "formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance."

Officials were asked to recall the days when they walked or rode bicycles to inspect villages and then sat on long wooden benches with the locals discussing the latter's complaints and concerns. Some officials even stayed with locals for at least three days, somewhat an immersion program, to get a feel of the people's core problems.

In the meetings, the central government told leaders to ensure their campaign must be felt at the grassroots level, and that it must satisfy as many people as possible.

According to a survey carried out by the website of the People's Daily every March before the National People's Congress, corruption ranked third among China's 10 top concerns in 2013. It was only at seventh in 2012.

"Xi is deeply worried about the huge power system Zhou Yongkang built up and he is trying to bring back stability and discipline at the top levels of the party," Mr Ding said.

On Friday according to the Guangzhou Daily, China's capital of southern Guangdong province seized the passports of 2,014 village chiefs to prevent corrupt local officials from fleeing abroad.

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