10.02.2007

Reforming anti-corruption organs?

How is corruption controlled in China?

A discipline inspection group (纪检监察组) is set up in each state organ. Discipline inspection groups are the party's anti-corruption organs. The power to conduct inspections, to file and investigate cases, to detain and question suspects belongs to them.

The secretary (shuji) of a discipline inspection group is chosen among the leaders of the organ in which the group is set up. (in other words, leaders of state organs have to monitor themselves). Also, the organ hosting the discipline inspection group has veto powers over case investigation.

This is how anti-corruption organs worked until recently.

One wonders, how can cases of corruption be investigated, if anti-corruption organs have their hands tied? How can corruption in a ministry be investigated, if investigations need to be first approved by the ministry? How effective can this mode of operation be?

At some point, these issues must have been debated by the leadership and/or by their advisors. We may not be aware of the contents of this debate, as we do not normally read journals published by organs of the CCP. But reforms were in the making.

Slowly, things started to change in 2005, when it was decided that discipline inspection groups would no longer be subordinated to the state organs hosting them. Reforms were carried out at the central level first. Here, discipline inspection groups set up in ministries became responsible solely to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Before, they were responsible towards the Central Commission and the ministry as well.
The first localities to implement these reforms seem to have been Beijing municipality and Hebei province.

Later on, in 2007, reforms spread to sub-provincial governments. Here's how the reform is working in Chengdu:

  • In 2007, the new leadership system will be implemented in 20% of Chengdu government organs. By 2009, all discipline inspection groups existing in Chengdu should be lead only by the Chengdu commission for discipline inspection.
  • Members of discipline inspection groups will not be appointed among the leaders of the organ they will have to monitor
  • Most importantly, discipline inspection group will be on the budget of the Chengdu commission for discipline inspection. Before, they were on the budget of the organs they had to monitor. Financial dependence further constrained their (little) autonomy.

Will this be enough to make anti-corruption organs more efficient?