02/24/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Party’s new code of ethics to stop river of corruption

by Wang Zhicheng
The guide lists 52"unacceptable” practices from receiving bribes to being involved in business, from helping their relatives to owning shares in foreign companies. But the code is only for internal use with and without power. "It's like a patient trying to cure himself." Democracy excluded. Corruption affects about 3% of GDP.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee has issued a new code of ethics for its cadres to ensure transparency at work and prevent corruption. According to President Hu Jintao corruption in the party so great it endangers its survival.   There are 52 guidelines that specify "unacceptable" practices for leaders and managers, including: accepting cash or financial instruments as gifts, and using their influence to benefit their spouses, children or "special concerned persons" with regards to their employment, stock trading or business.

It fell to He Guoqiang, member of the Politburo Standing Committee, to present the guide, a revised and more analytical version of a similar publication, published in 1997. He stressed that leaders of the party must "serve the people" and should not mix their private interests in government land sales, construction, in housing developments, in mining, in industrial restructuring in the brokerage services. Party members are also urged not to design government buildings or buy luxury cars and use nabobs.  

The new guidelines appear to describe as negative ( "do not do ...") what in reality happens in the positive.  Many of the riots, strikes, sit-ins that occur each day in China actually come from the frustration of the population that sees its leaders and members of the Party fatten at the public expense, seizing land for its own projects, provision and helping children to become industry manager, by providing precise percentages in bribes for contracts (10 to 25%), using public funds to private investment funds accumulated by illegally exporting abroad. The new ethical guide reveals that from 1978 to 2003 about 4 thousand corrupt government officials have fled abroad with at least 50 billion U.S. dollars. According to analysts, the endemic corruption of politicians and entrepreneurs (titles that often coincide), "costs" the equivalent of 3% of gross domestic product annually.

The Central Committee praised the new ethics guide as "an important rules of the Party." But according to analysts and dissidents, the problem lies here: the investigation on Party corruption is itself corrupt.  "It's like a patient trying to heal himself," said an activist for human rights.  

In the past, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao warned Party leaders that corruption is likely to be the battle ground for the very survival of the party. Until two years ago the introduction of internal democracy for party posts, so as to prevent the rise to power of corrupt members, was being discussed. But the discussion stalled and the latest promotions were all the "princes", the sons of prominent persons of the party.  

A witness to the futility of these ethical codes is the data (offered by the Supreme Court of Beijing). According to the latest available data, in 2006, out of 33 thousand officially reported cases of corruption, only 1600 officers were arrested and more than 80% of those criminally convicted avoided sanctions. Although officials are banned from having any economic interest in coal mines (as the new code reaffirms) in 2006 about 95% of officials involved in the ownership of collapsed mines were acquitted. In 2005, 110 thousand officials were punished, but most only with disciplinary action.

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