Monday, March 12, 2012

Civil servants charged with corruption in China

China's top prosecutor says more than 44,000 civil servants were charged with corruption last year.
The head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Cao Jianming, made the report to the National People's Congress on Sunday.

The procurator-general said the number of civil employees who were charged with corruption, including bribery and embezzlement, reached 44,506 in 2011. This is up about 420 from the previous year.

The number included 7 ministerial-level officials.Former railway minister Liu Zhijun, who was in charge of high-speed rail projects, was dismissed last year amid growing criticism of corruption in his ministry. It has absolute power over bidding processes.

In China, the number of civil servants charged with corruption has been over 40,000 for several consecutive years, increasing public frustration toward the government.

It is believed that one-party Communist rule, a lack of an independent judicial body, and ineffective supervising authorities, are behind the rampant corruption among civil servants.

The latest report has dealt a blow to the government of President Hu Jintao who said the eradication of corruption was one of the government's top priorities.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised international envoy Kofi Annan that he would back any honest peace bid but warned dialogue would fail if "terrorist groups" remained.

In Cairo, meanwhile, Russian and Arab foreign ministers called for an end to the violence in Syria "whatever its source," as they struggled to find common ground on ways to resolve the conflict.
Syrian state television on Saturday said there was a "positive atmosphere" to the Damascus meeting between Assad and the former UN chief, on his first visit since being named United Nations-Arab League envoy on the conflict.
Annan made no immediate public comment about the progress of his mission to prevent a year-old uprising from spiralling into all-out civil war.
"Syria is ready to bring success to any honest bid to find a solution," the official SANA news agency quoted Assad as telling Annan on Saturday.
But "no dialogue or political process can succeed as long as there are terrorist groups that are working to sow chaos and destabilise the country by attacking civilians and soldiers," he added.
"The success of any effort firstly requires an examination of what is happening on the ground instead of presumptions spread by certain states of the region and others to distort the reality... of the situation in Syria," said Assad.
The meeting came against a backdrop of fierce fighting between troops and rebel fighters, particularly in the northwestern province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, where the Free Syrian Army has been especially active.
Troops killed 16 rebels in an ambush in the province on Saturday while the rebels killed four soldiers and captured five, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Nationwide, 31 people were killed, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding to a death toll that had already topped 8,500 since protests against Assad's regime erupted last March.
Emissary of the United Nations and the Arab League, Annan has the support of Damascus allies Beijing and Moscow and his mission has been welcomed by both the Syrian government and the opposition.
But Russia said its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made clear to Annan at a meeting earlier in Cairo that Moscow was opposed to "crude interference" in Syria's affairs.
"A particular emphasis was placed on the inadmissibility of trampling on international legal norms, including through crude interference in Syria's internal affairs," the foreign ministry said.
The Russian stance drew an angry response from Gulf states when Lavrov joined an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo with Saudi Arabia's Saud al-Faisal accusing Moscow of giving Damascus a "licence to extend its brutal practices against the Syrian people, without compassion or mercy."
Current UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Annan would demand an immediate end to violence and aid agency access to besieged protest cities to evacuate casualties and provide desperately needed relief supplies to civilians trapped by the fighting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after a meeting at the Arab League headquarters on Syria that he and his Arab counterparts want "an end to the violence whatever its source."
Reading out a joint statement, Lavrov and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani said they also agreed on setting up a mechanism for "objective monitoring" in the country and had agreed on no foreign intervention there.
They also called for "unhindered humanitarian access" in Syria and support for the mission of Annan to Damascus.

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