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Beijing Forces Government Officials to Quit Their Business Jobs in Anti-Graft Drive

  • Benjamin Sand

China says thousands of government officials have been forced to quit their part-time business jobs as part of Beijing's efforts to rid the country of graft.

Chinese state media this week report more than 8,000 government employees have been forced to give up their part-time jobs in the business world.

Government employees here frequently supplement their official incomes with part-time work, often with state-owned companies.

But the Communist Party's Central Committee says workers have been using their government connections to illegally help their businesses.

Singapore University sociologist Zhao Li Tao says such examples of China's pervasive corruption is sapping public confidence in both government and business.

"This is a problem. The Communist Party, they understand that this is undermining the legitimacy of communist rule," said Mr. Zhao.

The government announced this year it would crack down on the practice and do more to separate government work from business interests.

But the line dividing party politics and private enterprise in China is still fairly thin. Businesses often hire relatives of party officials to strengthen government connections. And state-run industries are sold to entrepreneurs with ties to local authorities.

The central government insists it is doing all it can but Mr. Zhao says the Communist Party is hard pressed to police its own members.

"They need some kind of independent institution to attack these kinds of problems. We see the effort, but success is rather limited," he concluded.

In 2004 government investigations targeted more than 42,000 people for fraud, embezzlement and extortion.

The penalties for malfeasance range from fines, jail, and in extreme cases, execution.

But studies indicate corruption still cost China more than five percent of its gross domestic product this year, or at least $70 billion.