100,000 officials punished in 2006

Updated: 2007-02-14 09:02

Nearly 100,000 members of the Communist Party of China were punished last year for corruption, but eradicating graft in the near future remains a huge challenge, a senior official said.

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"Solving the problem of corruption in a short time is almost impossible," Gan Yisheng, a senior party discipline and oversight official, told a press conference in Beijing.

Of the 97,260 officials who had been disciplined, over 80 percent had failed to carry out duties, taken bribes or violated the party's financial rules, said Gan, vice secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The punishments extended to prosecution for 3,530 cadres, seven of whom were at or above the level of Cabinet minister or governor of a province.

Gan made little mention of an ongoing corruption case in Shanghai, although it is China's largest graft probe in more than a decade and involves more than 20 senior businessmen and officials, including the city's party chief Chen Liangyu.

Chen, a member of the Politburo, was sacked in September for his alleged involvement in the misuse of about $400 million of the city's pension funds for speculative real estate projects.

The investigation, which first began to surface in July last year, is being carried out "smoothly" and the results will be publicised at an "appropriate time," Gan said.

The disciplinary official said that corrupt cadres made up a minuscule percentage -- only 0.14 percent -- of China's nearly 70 million party members.

"The ratio is very low, and it means most of the party cadres are good," he said.

Nevertheless the Chinese government has waged an ongoing battle against corruption, a problem that President Hu Jintao has warned it is a threat to the party's legitimacy.

Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao have placed corruption at the top of the central government's agenda since officially taking power in early 2003 and have since launched several campaigns to rein in corrupt officials.

Several other ranking officials have reportedly been implicated in corruption cases recently, including the former head of the food and drug administration and the state's former top statistician.

Chief of National Bureau of Statistics Qiu Xiaohua, who is accused of bribe-taking and polygamy, is in custody and his trial is expected to begin soon, said Gan.

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