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China admits corruption remains a "very serious" problem

The Chinese government vowed to make greater effort to fight corruption

AFP, Wednesday 29 Dec 2010

China said Wednesday it had made great strides towards fighting corruption but admitted the problem was "still very serious" and pledged to work harder to crush graft and win the public's confidence.

In a new government report on the anti-corruption drive, the Communist rulers in Beijing reiterated that the country's "harmony and stability" depended on efforts to build a clean government.

It said the ruling party had shifted its efforts to stamp out graft in the past decade to focus on senior officials who collude with corrupt businessmen or shield underworld figures, as well as cases "that cause mass disturbances".

"So far, China's effort to combat corruption... has yielded notable results," said the report issued by the State Council, or cabinet.

But it warned that "corruption persists, with some cases even involving huge sums of money. The situation in combating corruption is still very serious, and the tasks are still abundant," it said.

The government and the Communist party pledged to "resolutely punish and effectively prevent corruption with more resolutions and powerful measures, so as to win the people's confidence with actual achievements".

The report highlights new rules that went into effect earlier this year that require government officials to report their incomes, investments, personal assets and whereabouts of family members.

Corrupt officials in China have a long history of funnelling ill-gotten gains into the bank accounts of relatives or to family members overseas.

It also says China encourages news media to "expose unhealthy tendencies" and "highly values the positive role played by the Internet" in bringing to light wrongdoing.

China's media is tightly controlled but gradually becoming more aggressive in exposing corporate and official malfeasance. However, particularly bold reporters who offend powerful forces risk being muzzled or even jailed.

This month, an investigative journalist known for reporting on sensitive issues such as government-enforced housing demolitions died after a savage beating by a group of men -- which some activists said was related to his work.

Chinese Internet users have become a potent force in exposing official abuses and pressuring authorities to back down from some unpopular decisions.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.