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Click on the boxes to read about the bodies that rule China
Party members suspected of corruption, bad management or breaking with the party line are liable to be hauled before discipline inspection commissions, set up to deal with internal party discipline and to monitor abuses.
As economic reforms have gathered pace, corruption has become probably the single most damaging issue for the party’s standing.
As a result, there have been consistent campaigns to root out corrupt officials and give maximum media coverage to a few, high-profile punishments.
For example, Cheng Kejie, a former Vice-Chairman of the National People’s Congress, was executed in 2000 for taking nearly $5m in bribes.
But this was seen as an exception.
More often, powerful Party members are usually able to protect themselves, their families and protégés from any enquiries or public criticism.
And because it is the Party which investigates the Party - it is not prepared to tolerate outsiders monitoring its members’ behaviour - the commissions are always prone to interference from higher up.
On the occasions that the Party has acted against senior members, its motives have been questioned.
For example, the fall of former Beijing Party Secretary Chen Xitong – sentenced to 16 years jail for corruption in 1998 – was seen as having more to do with a power struggle at the top of government than with the Party’s determination to clean up its ranks.
Nevertheless, the discipline inspection commissions do have privileged access to information about people. Their control over networks of informers and personal files makes them particularly feared.
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