The Communist Party of China's (CPC) top watchdog announced severe punishments yesterday for a number of officials involved in scandals of buying public and Party posts through bribery.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee held a press conference to publicize the list of the disgraced.
Among them, Wu Bao'an of Shanxi Province was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July for taking bribes.
According to the court ruling, from April 2000 to May 2004, Wu took advantage of his posts as the magistrate of Yicheng County and secretary of the county Party committee to help 28 people obtain promotions or illicit interests after accepting bribes totalling 888,000 yuan (US$109,500).
As Party committees at provincial, municipal, county and township levels nationwide undergo personnel adjustment this year, "we must make efforts to create a clean and healthy environment to guarantee a smooth process of the reshuffle," said Liu Xirong, the commission's deputy secretary.
Irregularities found in official promotions will be dealt with case by case with zero tolerance, he said.
Liu said officials found trying to acquire official posts through illegal means will be punished and no longer promoted.
Those who have already obtained higher official posts through bribery will be demoted. The officials in charge of discipline supervision who failed to spot the wrongdoing will also be dealt with for dereliction of duty, Liu said.
He stressed that in the future, officials who are found having sold or bought official posts through election bribery or other illicit activities will be demoted and face further legal action.
In the past two years, disciplinary rules have been established and revised to regulate the recommendation, selection, supervision and resignation of local Party officials in a bid to increase transparency.
"Personnel replacement within the Party is becoming increasingly standardized," Ye Duchu, a scholar with the Central Party School, was quoted by Outlook Weekly as saying.
The Party accelerated in its anti-corruption drive last year. Two ministerial-level officials Tian Fengshan, former minister of land and resources, and Han Guizhi, former head of the top advisory body of Heilongjiang Province, were sentenced to life imprisonment and a suspended death penalty.
"The punishments of such senior officials reflect the Party's resolution and strength in fighting corruption," said Cheng Wenhao, an associate professor with the Tsinghua University's School of Public Policy and Management.
Wu Jiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, told Xinhua News Agency that "corruption in personnel adjustment may shake and undermine the CPC's ruling foundation and capacity."
It is during local Party committee elections that corruption is likelier to take place, Wu said.
General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao stressed earlier that selecting qualified officials and giving them proper posts is vital to consolidating the ruling status of the CPC.
In 2005, the Party issued a milestone decree that defines the Party's anti-corruption tactics as "systematic."
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which China ratified, took effect last year.
"The anti-corruption campaign will continue to be high-handed," Cheng said. "There will be fierce bites rather than barks."