Wen says corruption in China remains serious problem
Thu, Mar 05, 2009

BEIJING (AFP) - Corruption remains a serious problem in China, Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday as he vowed that authorities would strictly monitor spending under the nation's huge economic stimulus plan.

Wen's comments to parliament came amid concerns expressed recently in the state-run media that some of the four-trillion-yuan (908-billion-dollar) stimulus package could be siphoned off or misused by corrupt officials.

"Corruption remains a serious problem in some localities, departments and areas," Wen said on the opening day of the annual parliamentary session. "(The government) will never allow any organisation or individual to exploit the surge in public spending for private gain."

Wen said the government would "prohibit image projects that waste both human and financial resources and vanity projects that are divorced from reality."

Nevertheless, corruption is endemic in China and many campaigns have been launched to rein it in over the years, to mixed results.

President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that graft within the ranks of the Communist Party is one of the greatest threats to the legitimacy of its rule.

Wen typically highlights the issue of corruption in his annual speech, and renews the government's pledge to fight it.

"We will strengthen our efforts to promote clean government and combat corruption," Wen said Thursday, adding this would include tightened oversight through the auditing of government agencies.

The parliament, with nearly 3,000 delegates, is regarded as the world's biggest but is also widely seen as a body that rubber-stamps the Communist Party's decisions.

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