[JURIST] Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law, combating corruption and improving transparency in a speech [text, in Chinese] published by the government Sunday. During the speech, delivered last month at a national conference on government administration, Wen explained that the proper adherence to the rule of law is an important step in the fight against government corruption. He also called for greater transparency in the preparation of local city and provincial budgets and greater respect for the rule of law by these local governments, due to their continuous influence in the daily lives of individuals. Wen also called for more legislation and institution building to improve government, adherence to "scientific and democratic" decision-making, the promotion of transparency in government affairs and governance strictly by the law. The Chinese government has been taking steps against government corruption in recent months. In July, the Chinese government instituted new regulations [JURIST report] requiring a wide variety of government officials to disclose to the state details about their personal finances and the legal statuses of their family members. The new regulations, which apply to county-level and higher-ranking political officials, party officers and employees of public institutions and state-held business entities, require individuals to disclose their family's investment holdings, property and income, as well as the marital statuses, employment statuses and whereabouts of all family members. The regulations also institute stiffer penalties for failure to comply, with offenders now facing a range of disciplines from public sanction to removal from office.
The expanded regulations are the latest action by the Chinese government in a years-long battle against what is perceived to be pervasive corruption [JURIST news archive] in the state's various business and administrative bodies. Also in July, the Chinese government executed a top judicial official [JURIST report] after a corruption probe in the southwestern city of Chongquing revealed he had taken nearly $2 million in bribes and had been protecting a number of organized crime gangs. In March, the Hebei Province People's High Court upheld a life sentence for the former vice president of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC), Huang Songyou, who had been convicted [JURIST reports] of bribery and embezzlement. Earlier that month, SPC president Wang Shengjun called for increased efforts to fight corruption [JURIST report] in the country's court system. In January, the SPC announced new anti-corruption rules [JURIST report] in an effort to increase public confidence in the rule of law. In October, two Chongqing courts sentenced six individuals to death [JURIST report] for their connections with organized crime gangs.