Wang Qishan role to lead China's anti-graft drive a 'surprise': media
Central News Agency
2012-11-15 09:58 PM
Taipei, Nov. 15 (CNA) Hong Kong media said that Wang Qishan's appointment as head of the Communist Party of China's anti-graft Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was the result of party horse-trading and also an outright surprise. It was a surprise that came with risks to have Wang lead the commission instead of having him stay in his current post as vice premier in charge of economic affairs, the Oriental Daily News said. China's new leaders -- the seven members of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee -- were announced at a meeting in Beijing, where Wang was named in his new position and Zhang Gaoli was tapped to take over as vice premier. The appointments were announced one day after the weeklong 18th Party Congress ended with Chinese President Hu Jintao handing over the party helm to Xi Jinping, and seven standing committee members stepping down. Wang's appointment also indicates recognition of his courage and competence in the face of challenges, the daily said. It will take someone like Wang to spearhead China's anti-graft efforts as they have become a matter of life and death for the Communist Party and China as well, the daily said. Wang, 64, is known as the "chief firefighter" for his handling of a debt crisis in a state firm in Guangdong in 1997 at the start of the Asian financial crisis, and his work as acting mayor of Beijing during the 2003 outbreak of SARS in the capital. To effectively combat graft in China, Wang needs to first reform the commission itself and establish measures to stem corruption among its officers, the paper said. It is an open secret that these officers use their positions for gain, the daily said. In many cases involving corrupt ministry and provincial officials, it is not uncommon for the commission's officers to intimidate the officials and extort money from them, the paper said. Some anti-graft officers have ended up as multi-millionaires after cases were closed, the paper added. The paper suggested Wang seek breakthrough reforms in China's political system though actions such as publishing officials' assets and dealing with officials who move their families and ill-gotten assets abroad. At the meeting, Wang also moved up to the sixth place in the country's leadership pecking order, with Zhang at the bottom of the list among the seven newly elected Politburo standing committee members. Wang's step up the ladder is a symbol of China's resolve to fight corruption, an unnamed scholar in Beijing said Thursday. With Wang's appointment, Beijing, at the very least, is projecting an image of willingness to combat corruption, the scholar said. There have been signs of heightened attention to the corruption issue, as evidenced by Hu and Xi's comments against graft, the scholar added. Hu said corruption was threatening both the party and the state, amid reports of Premier Wen Jiabao's family having amassed US$2.7 billion in assets and the ouster of former political star Bo Xilai on corruption charges. However, adjustments in the rankings in the committee are not enough to clamp down on graft in China and it remains to be seen how Wang will perform based on his past credentials, the scholar said. Wang ascended to the Chinese leadership after being elected to the Politburo in 2007 and was appointed vice premier the following year. Having overseen the creation of China's first joint-venture bank, Wang has led finance and trade negotiations as well as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the U.S. Some Chinese media commentators have compared Wang to former Premier Zhu Rongji, who was known for combating graft, attacking debt in state enterprises and pushing for China to join the World Trade Organization. (By Scarlett Chai, Lawrence Chiu, Chou Hui-ying and Scully Hsiao)
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