China warns officials not to cover up corruption

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Authorities in China have warned they will go after officials who cover up corruption, state media reported on Tuesday, in the government's latest effort to curb widespread graft.

The ruling Communist Party has shown no sign of wanting to set up an independent body to fight graft, however, and has arrested at least 20 activists who have pushed for officials to reveal their wealth, convicting two and sentencing a third activist to a jail term.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, an arm of China's anti-corruption watchdog, said investigators should probe the perpetrators of graft, besides supervising members of the ruling Communist Party and local investigators themselves.

"Officials must investigate those responsible, as well as relevant leaders' involvement, including within party committees and discipline inspection committees," said a research unit that is part of the disciplinary body, according to official news agency Xinhua.

"(They) must make clear whether a leading official took the initiative to discover and resolutely investigate or ... was derelict in duty or even concealed discipline problems or shielded (violators)," it added.

In some cases, this type of corruption was not revealed until officials were promoted, which "severely damages public confidence in the party", it said.

But it was not immediately clear if the comments represented policy or just guidelines, or what punishment awaited officials found guilty of such shortcomings.

Like others before him, Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that graft is such a serious problem it threatens the party's very survival, and has vowed to go after powerful"tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

The government has sought to curtail everything from bribery and gift-giving to lavish banquets, aiming to assuage public anger over graft and extravagance by some officials.

In a bid to crack down on the use of foreign family ties to illegally move assets or escape investigation, China said in January that officials whose spouses and children had emigrated would not be considered for promotion.

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