China’s top decision-making body has pledged to increase its efforts to crack down on corruption in the financial sector and in public firms, according to a report by Chinese state media Xinhua.
“(We) need to…promote those who do not dare to, cannot and do not want to (engage in) in corruption,” officials said in the meeting chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a Xinhua readout.
Officials said the efforts were aimed at increasing the sectors’ economic contributions. Their remarks came a day after party inspection teams concluded investigations into dozens of state-owned enterprises.
The vow to step up anti-graft efforts comes at a time when Beijing is already cracking down on its $57 trillion financial sector.
Over the past year, that has led to developments such as top tech dealmaker Bao Fan being “taken away” by authorities for a corruption investigation and banking and investment sector employees being instructed to taper down their opulent lifestyles.
In March, Beijing also announced plans to set up a new watchdog for the financial sector, the National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA), to oversee all aspects of the sector, apart from the securities market.
“The meeting emphasised that (we) should continuously enhance the … core competitiveness of state-owned enterprises, and … increase the efforts of financial enterprises to serve the real economy and national strategy,” the Xinhua report said.
Ensuring that businesses in the country serve “the real economy”, and the country, is a key aspect of the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘common prosperity’ agenda.
Last year, Xi vowed that China will steadfastly promote common prosperity and improve wealth distribution. The drive has already led to salary reductions in finance and other sectors.
The Xi Jinping cabinet — including officials handpicked by the Chinese president — have not been spared by the anti-corruption crackdown either. Top officials including former foreign minister Qin Gang and defence minister Li Shangfu seem to have ‘disappeared’ over the past few months.
The vanishing of officials in China is often followed by the announcement of investigations into suspected disciplinary infractions but Beijing has yet to explain why Qin and Li remain out of public sight. Qin has been missing for three months and Li for one month.
With tensions over Taiwan, the South China Sea, and over US export controls that target the Chinese military and advanced tech sector, Xi’s rule has been marked by a focus on national security risks within the party, government, and large industries.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that foreign minister Qin was removed due to an “extramarital affair” during his tenure the top Chinese diplomat to the US, which created a ‘national security’ issues.
“It is necessary to … establish a mentality of red lines and (willingness) to be extreme, take effective measures to prevent and resolve major risks, and firmly maintain the bottom line of safety,” the politburo was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s meeting.
- Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena