01/24/2006, 00.00
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Chinese Communist Party: "Stop selling official posts"

A "blacklist" of worst cases of corruption is  published just ahead of new nominations due in March. An expert: "Only people who can comply with this malicious culture can get promoted in some institutions".

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Official posts sold by auction to the highest bidder: the Chinese communist party's disciplinary body yesterday appealed to all members to "beware" of this new type of illegal trade, widespread among representatives of the world's largest communist party, by publishing a list of worst cases of corruption.

Communist Party discipline watchdogs put members on notice yesterday by drawing attention to a series of cases where officials sold government posts to the highest bidder.

The warning was designed to discourage corruption in the ranks ahead of this year's reshuffle of local party committees, which gets under way in March. The changes will affect hundreds of thousands of party officials from the village up to provincial levels.

China Academy of Social Sciences researcher Shao Daosheng said the practice of selling positions had become entrenched. "Only people who can comply with this malicious culture can get promoted in some institutions," Mr Shao said. "The selection of officials is ruled by one person - usually a top official - and the elements of openness, democracy and competition are less apparent in some places."

One of the biggest graft cases exposed so far by discipline authorities involved Wu Baoan , former party secretary of Yicheng county in Shanxi. He was renowned for selling government positions while in charge of Yicheng between 2000 and 2004. According to the China Youth Daily, Wu appointed 253 officials in less than one year, one-third of the total number of officials under his direct supervision. In return, he received about 5 million yuan. Wu was jailed for 15 years in November.

But commission officials, surprisingly, did not mention the country's biggest case of corrupt promotions. Former Suihua party secretary Ma De accepted about 6 million yuan in bribes between 1993 and 2002 to help 12 people advance their careers, including the sale of a city deputy party secretary position for 500,000 yuan.

Ma was handed a suspended death sentence in July.

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