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China Intensifies Corruption Crackdown - 2002-03-11


China says it is intensifying its crackdown on crime and corruption. The anti-graft campaign will focus especially on economic crimes, following China's entry to the World Trade Organization.

China's Supreme Court chief, Xiao Yang, promises to get tough on government officials involved in economic crimes, including embezzling public funds, smuggling and counterfeiting.

In his annual work report before the National People's Congress in Beijing Monday, Mr. Xiao lashed out at public servants who accept bribes, seek protection from gangs involved in organized crime, and abuse their power for private gain.

Mr. Xiao said that courts in China last year convicted more than 20,000 people for embezzling funds or taking bribes, many of whom were senior officials. He said bribery cases in 2001 were up 26 percent over the previous year. Mr. Xiao said more than 1,300 of the corruption cases last year involved amounts exceeding $120,000 each.

Mr. Xiao devoted much of his speech to the challenges China faces in its first year as a member of the World Trade Organization. He said the government will step up reforms of the legal system and train more judges and lawyers to handle court cases involving foreign companies. He said China will do more to root out corrupt judges and police officers.

Mr. Xiao also took aim at groups he said disturbed the social order. He lumped together terrorists, religious extremists and the banned spiritual movement, the Falun Gong. He said those groups damage the country's unity and sovereignty.

Mr. Xiao vowed to punish more severely those who commit violent crimes. He said courts in 2001 punished more than 44,000 criminals who trafficked in or raped women and children.