By Ariel Ye and James Rowland
On 29 December 2010 the Information Office of the State Council (China’s cabinet) published a report detailing China’s past and present anti-corruption efforts (the "White Paper").1 This has been followed in quick succession by the publication of a report including the key facts and figures relating to China’s anti-corruption efforts in 2010 and a public statement by President Hu Jintao in his address to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that the Chinese government will wage a more forceful fight against corruption in future and that "More efforts should be made to investigate graft in key industries and key posts".2
According to the White Paper, recent efforts to deal with cases of commercial bribery have been focused in six major areas, namely engineering construction, the grant of land use rights, mineral resources exploration and mining rights, trade of property rights, the sourcing and marketing of pharmaceuticals, government procurement and the development of and trade in resources. There has been a broader focus in other areas including bank lending, securities and futures trading, commercial insurance, publishing and distribution, sports, telecommunications, electric power, quality control and environmental protection. The White Paper also refers to the launch of the crackdown on cross-border commercial bribery in which trans-national businesses operating in China were targeted.3
The White Paper notes that the investigation of cases involving corruption has been prioritized in response to the different characteristics of corruption at different stages of China’s development. In that respect it notes that in the 1990s efforts were strengthened to investigate and deal with cases of corruption in the fields of finance, real estate and engineering construction while in the 21st century the focus has shifted to investigating and dealing with cases in which senior public officials have taken advantage of their control over personnel, judicial powers and rights of administrative examination and approval or administrative encforcement in collusion with lawbreaking businessmen, or have traded power for money or solicited and taken bribes and cases of corruption that cause mass disturbances and major accidents due to negligence.
The solution to corruption in these priority areas has been identified in the White Paper as involving the implementation of a strengthened system of administrative accountability, power restraint, supervision and transparency. The discipline inspection bodies of the CPC, committees of the National People’s Congresses and People’s Political Consultative Conferences acting independently but in coordination with the People’s Courts and People’s Procuratorates under the leadership of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention of China, and the public via whistle-blowing hotlines and websites as well as via the expression of public opinion in the news media and on the internet have all been idetified as having important roles to play in this solution.4
The government acknowledges that the fight to combat corruption and build a clean government in China is still a difficult one and one which requires the active involvement of the public at large as well as the long-term education of the public and government officials to instill principles of integrity that are regarded internationally as essential to combatting corruption at its roots.5
Businesses operating in China should note that efforts to fight corruption are being strengthened in response to China’s actual situation, especially in certain key industries and in relation to key post-holders. Where businesses are unlucky enough to fall victim to corruption in China, the White Paper makes clear that they have an ‘unimpeded right’ to complain and to take action through various channels including by filing a lawsuit. 6The White Paper also makes clear that in its efforts to combat corruption, the government will adhere to a constitutional and legal framework which protects the legitimate rights of those being investigated and prosecuted on suspicion of their involvement in corrupt acts.
3 White Paper, Chapter VI.
4 White Paper, Chapter IV.
5 <http://english.gov.cn/2011-01/10/content_1781680.htm>; White Paper Chapter VII
6 White Paper, Chapter IV