July 10, 2014 / 2:03 AM / 5 years ago

China's top prosecutor orders more transparency in corruption cases

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s top prosecutor has ordered greater transparency in publicising corruption cases involving senior officials, state media reported, as the government steps up efforts to win the public’s confidence in its battle on pervasive graft.

Such information should be released in a timely way rather than on a case-by-case basis as tends to happen now, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday, citing an order from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

“The public will be informed in a timely manner of cases such as suspected duty-related violations by provincial-level officials and those behind serious accidents or major food and drug safety scandals,” it cited the notice as saying.

“Information to be published should include the suspects’ identities, the crimes they are suspected of, basic facts and latest developments in cases during investigation, arrest and prosecution,” Xinhua added.

Pictures and videos will also be released in some cases, it said.

But underscoring the limits of the transparency push in a country whose government has a track record of covering up bad or embarrassing news, information about “state secrets or personal privacy” will not be released, Xinhua added.

Those definitions have traditionally been broadly interpreted in China, and in the case of state secrets can be applied retroactively.

The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping has been publicising efforts to crack down on wasteful government spending and corruption to shore up its mandate to rule, which has been shaken by suspicion that officials waste taxpayers’ money on extravagances even as economic growth slows.

While the ruling Communist Party’s main anti-corruption body publishes names on an almost daily basis of people caught up in its probes, generally only the most basic details are released.

The party announced last week that Xu Caihou, who retired as vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission in 2013, had been expelled from the party and would be court-martialled after being accused of corruption.

Xu is the most senior person to date to have been felled.

But little information about his case has been released to the public.

A juicier scandal is brewing though, that of the powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, who has been put under virtual house arrest, sources have told Reuters.

Many of Zhou’s associates have been held in custody or interrogated about suspected corruption, with the probe focused on the southwestern province of Sichuan, where Zhou was party boss from 1999 to 2002.

The party’s graft watchdog said on Thursday that Fu Yi, the deputy head of a parliamentary advisory body in the provincial capital Chengdu, was being investigated on suspicion of serious breaches of discipline, the usual euphemism for corruption.

Fu was a senior official at a Chengdu economic zone when Zhou worked in Sichuan, his official resume shows.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez

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