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Chinese anti-corruption watchdog toughens its stance – on itself

Chinese President Xi Jinping
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China's main corruption-fighting watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) has amped up the supervision of its investigators, of which there are more than half a million.

What's the latest?

In a communique Sunday, following the CCDI's annual meeting, new measures were announced to ensure that corruption was combated within its own ranks.

What's been said?

State news organization China Daily said the CCDI decided: "Trust (in disciplinary officials) cannot replace supervision." The CCDI added that it intended to "make sure the power granted by the Party and the people is not abused."

What's the reason for the crackdown?

The CCDI's navel gazing may be linked to some of its own officials being arrested for corruption. China Daily reported official figures which revealed that "more than 7,900 disciplinary officials from across the country have been punished for various types of wrongdoing" since late 2012. Of these, 17 from the CCDI itself were placed under investigation.

This point was hammered home to the Chinese public by national broadcaster CCTV last week, which aired a three-part documentary in which 10 CCDI officials confessed their corruption.

The series, titled "Forging Steel Requires Strength in One's Body" (rough translation), shows one official admitting to accepting 141 million yuan ($20.3 million) in bribes and accepting over a thousand bottles of alcohol.

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What will actually change?

New regulation passed by the CCDI – though not specified in the communique – will apply to procedures such as evidence gathering and case analysis. Standards were outlined on how officials should deal with corruption tips, as well as manage assets seized through wrongdoing.

Audio and video recordings are to be encouraged throughout interrogations, as well as a logging system for those who try and interfere in cases, China Daily reported.

How many people have been punished for anti-corruption?

According to China Daily, citing the CCDI, 734,000 out of 2.54 million corruption tips were investigated in 2016. Last year, 43 senior officials stood trial.

In total, 410,000 officials – including 76 at ministerial level or above – were punished in 2016 for corruption.

What does President Xi think?

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a cornerstone of his leadership.

Speaking at the CCDI meeting Friday, President Xi underscored his hard line, saying that his battle against corruption within the Chinese Communist Party had "gained crushing momentum."

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