01/24/2013, 00.00
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As anti-corruption fight gets underway, party officials withdraw money from banks

China's new leader Xi Jinping ends the meeting of the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection by reiterating his commitment to fight graft and moral decay. Many Communist officials react by withdrawing foreign cash from banks and selling off their real estate. Five-year plan against corruption will not work, experts say.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - As Communist Party's disciplinary officials boost their efforts to crack down on graft, corrupt party officials across the country are trying to beat the coming purge by rushing to withdraw foreign cash and sell their properties, the Henan Business Daily reported on Wednesday.

In Guangdong province alone, hub of China's economic miracle, a total of 1.792 billion yuan (US$ 290 million) were taken out of banks in two days. The same has happened in banks in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian.

The paper is also reporting that middle level and high ranking party officials are also selling off their real estate, which can be easily traced.

Members of what dissident Wei Jingsheng calls the bureaucratic capitalist class, i.e. government employees and senior officials in state-owned enterprises, are doing the same. Thanks to their economic and social influence, they have become the backbone of the one-party dictatorship.

The capital flight is the result of the renewed interest in fighting corruption expressed by China's incoming leaders led by Xi Jinping who will become China's foremost leader in March.

During a recent meeting of the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Xi urged its members to confine corrupt officials to a "cage," but various observers doubt he will succeed without a democratic system.

At the end of its meeting, the party's disciplinary watchdog announced a five-year anti-corruption plan this year that will start checks on senior officials' declared personal assets. The plan also calls for party officials to avoid behaviours contrary to Socialist morality.

Following Xi Jinping's election as party boss, various cases of high ranking party officials' lavish lifestyle came to light. One effect, according to reports in Chinese media, is a drop in the number of cars bearing military plaques that have visited night clubs and restaurants in Beijing.

Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua was the first to respond to the central government's appeal.

During a press conference at the end of a meeting of the Guangzhou's People's Congress, he said that he would disclose his assets to the public, if ordered to do so.

Indeed, for Peng Peng, a researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, officials "with power to make decisions on public policy... are the ones that need to be closely watched and held accountable to the public by disclosing their assets."

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