The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) vowed to curb corruption and enforce party discipline following an official media report that hundreds of regional lawmakers accepted bribes and dozens committed electoral fraud.
A total of 512 delegates in the CCP People’s Congress in Hengyang City in Hunan Province resigned on Saturday after they were found to have taken bribes, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, citing the municipal lawmaking body.
Another 56 provincial-level congress delegates from Hengyang were found to have used more than 110 million yuan (US$18 million) to win their elections, Xinhua said.
The elections were declared invalid, according to the agency.
Reports of the scandal came after Hu Guochu (胡國初) was removed as head of the Hengyang People’s Congress and investigated for legal violations, as announced on the Web site of the CCP’s Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection on Dec. 18.
Another official, Tong Mingqian (童名謙), former CCP secretary of Hengyang, was “directly responsible” for the corruption, according to the Xinhua report.
It did not name Hu or any other officials.
Chinese authorities are stepping up a crackdown on bribes in moves that underscore Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) determination to root out graft.
Targeting those Xi has described as both “tigers and flies” — cadres at the top and bottom of the power ladder — may help bolster the party’s image as economic expansion slows and public discontent over corruption increases.
The Hengyang electoral fraud showed “rampant violations” of rules and law, the official CCP People’s Daily said in a commentary yesterday following the Xinhua report.
“Thorough investigations and severe punishment must be done to maintain the party’s reverence and the people’s trust in the country’s fundamental political system,” it said.
The scandal was also broadcast on Saturday on the state-controlled China Central Television.
The party’s new leadership, headed by Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), took office in November last year in a once-a-decade power transition.
In a speech to the politburo after taking over as party general secretary, Xi told his fellow leaders that unless they address corruption, social unrest may rise and lead to the demise of the party.
Corruption was third among the public’s top 10 concerns this year, up from seventh last year, according to a survey by the Web site of People’s Daily carried out every March before the National People’s Congress.