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Chinese delegates demand clean, efficient government

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 5 (Reuters) China must wipe out corruption and Government inefficiency or risk losing popular support, but it will not be an easy task, delegates to the country's annual meeting of parliament said today.

Chinese leaders, who value stability above all else, have said the Government faces self-destruction if it fails to curb graft and has launched a series of campaigns to crack down on corrupt officials.

''Corruption and inefficiency have to be dealt with. If not, it will have a bad effect on the people's faith in the Government,'' Shao Zhenzhong, a delegate from the eastern province of Jiangsu, told Reuters.

The Communist Party, which has ruled China for more than half a century, has been trying to weed out corrupt cadres from its ranks to assuage discontent over misrule prevent unrest.

''If the Government has the guts to do it, and it's supported by the people, it can be done,'' said Zhao Di, a delegate from the central province of Hubei. ''But it's not going to happen overnight.'' In December, a former lands and resources minister was jailed for life for accepting more than 500,000 dollars in bribes.

China has also been cracking down on market corruption to assure investors that Beijing is serious about developing its capital markets, which the Government sees as vital for weaning companies off state loans.

''Not dealing with corruption will have a negative effect on the economy,'' said Mo Jianfeng from from the southern region of Guangxi.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today warned in his speech at the opening of this year's Parliament that the Government has a problem with inefficiency and bureaucracy, while some civil servants were extravagant, wasteful and corrupt.

''Some Government personnel engage in fakery and falsehood, extravagance and waste, and even graft and corruption,'' Wen told the 3,000-odd members of the largely rubber-stamp assembly.

''The transformation of Government functions has been tardy, not enough has been done to implement some tasks, efficiency is low, and there are striking problems with formulaic thinking and doing things for show,'' he added.

''We need to further increase our sense of mission and urgency,'' Wen said. ''We must deepen the fight to develop clean Government and fight corruption.'' Despite the efforts, an investigation by China's state auditors released in September found financial irregularities throughout the Government and said corruption in public administration remained widespread.

Last year, about 115,000 Communist Party members -- almost 2 per cent of its membership -- were punished for corruption and other offences, the official Xinhua news agency said in February.

Reuters PG VP1215

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