Crackdown on officials with mistresses

BEIJING Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:48am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to sack all officials found to have secretly "kept and supported" mistresses, in a move aimed at raising social morals, state media reported on Friday.

The step hardens up previous policy.

"It is a misunderstanding that officials who have mistresses would only be sacked when the situation is serious," the Beijing News quoted a Ministry of Personnel spokesman as saying.

Mistresses and "second wives" are common among government officials and businessmen in China, and Chinese media have said the financial pressures of keeping mistresses have driven some officials to seek money through bribes or abuse of power.

Corrupt officials are a major cause of public outrage in China, and the country's Communist rulers have warned that if graft is not checked it could threaten the party's grip on power.

The ministry said it had studied the issue and found it "necessary to make a clarification and emphasis" on the punishment for officials who supported mistresses.

"The morality of government officials shown in their management or power operation... directly affects the moral level of the whole society," the spokesman was quoted as saying.

"Therefore, officials should set up good examples, and abide by social morality rules."

Last year, a Chinese vice admiral was jailed for life on embezzlement charges after one of his many mistresses blew the whistle on him when he refused to give in to her demand for money.

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