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The crime is expected to continue rising in 2013, academy says
The number of people convicted of dereliction of duty soared in China last year, according to new research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and cases are expected to continue rising in 2013.
Tackling corruption has become a key government policy, since the Party's 18th National Congress in November, with investigations being launched into several high-profile figures, including Bo Xilai, the former Party chief of Chongqing, and ex-railways minister Liu Zhijun.
China's new leadership has underlined how it plans to work side by side with citizens in exposing corruption.
Reports of economic crimes rapidly increased in 2012 during a six-month campaign by Chinese public security authorities, an analysis shows.
From March to August last year, police cracked about 229,000 cases, more than twice the number in 2011, and recovered economic losses of 54.5 billion yuan ($8.7 billion), according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
According to the Supreme People's Procuratorate, 53,558 people were arrested for damaging the Chinese economy between January and October 2012, a 59.4 percent year-on-year increase.
Illegal fundraising, illegally seizing public deposits and organized pyramid schemes were the main crimes and happened in areas such as telecommunications, tourism and financing, said the report.
Meanwhile, crimes involving food and medicines in 2012 were serious and began extending to suburban areas, according to the report.
In addition, production and sale of counterfeit items were still rising, the report said.
Police from China and the United States broke a large gang infringing on other countries' intellectual property rights last year, confiscating more than 20,000 fake famous-brand bags involving around 5 billion yuan.
- Cao Yin
Work stepped up
The Supreme People's Procuratorate has ordered prosecuting departments nationwide to enhance work to prevent duty-related crimes, according to a notice it issued on Monday.
The notice said the departments will work closely with relevant administrative authorities to protect the safety of government investment, and take the initiative in following up and monitoring construction of major projects.
Priority will go to projects with large-scale investment, especially ones of great significance in maintaining economic growth, to ensure they remain safe and corruption-free, said Song Hansong, director of the duty-related crimes prevention department under the SPP.
The notice said prosecuting departments should pay attention to analysis of conditions and causes behind job-related crimes in key sectors, including construction, finance, traffic, education and health.
Meanwhile, the SPP will help set up a system to prevent conflicts of interest, and will also ensure transparency, Song said.
It added that 13,044 people were charged with the crime, 29 percent more than in 2011.
Jin Gaofeng, the report's main researcher, said the more effort the government makes in tackling corruption, the more cases are likely to emerge.
"Many cases do not involve just one official," he said.
"In many investigations by prosecutors or the disciplinary authorities, a graft network is found, and that's why the figures for such crimes are likely to rise further."
Most dereliction of duty cases, especially involving people taking bribes, have a "latent period" when prosecutors and disciplinary officers carry out their investigations, he said, adding that other related cases can emerge.
Jin, an associate professor specializing in criminology at the People's Public Security University of China, said the greater number of duty crimes coming to light is also thanks to whistle-blowers' reports or just hints of crimes being posted on the Internet.
Besides, prosecuting and disciplinary authorities conducted stricter investigations, and civil powers to battle the problem have also been expanded, he said.
There have been several high-level corruption or illegal behavior cases involving officials, exposed over the Internet. Jin highlighted two.
Yang Dacai, a former head of work safety in Shaanxi province, was relieved of his duties after Internet whistle-blowers accused him of amassing luxury watches. He was exposed after pictures showed him grinning at the scene of a road accident in which 36 people died.
There was also the case of Lei Zhengfu, then-Party chief of Chongqing's Beibei district, who was removed from his post after apparently featuring in a sex video, again exposed by micro bloggers.
Jin said these types of cases are likely to continue rising this year.
Yi Shenghua, a Beijing lawyer with more than 10 years' experience in dealing with duty crime, agreed that the focus will remain on such cases.
Last year, most cases involved bribe-taking, often involving land, demolition, or house transferals, he said, adding that he expected cases involving high-level officials and large sums of money to become a focal point.
But Zhu Lijia, a professor of government administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, thought that as a result of some high-profile exposures, cases are unlikely to rise this year.
"Those who might have potentially taken bribes or been involved in corruption will think twice about it under the crackdown."
Previously, some disciplinary authorities had avoided investigating or prosecuting, despite knowing that officials were involved, because of the loopholes that helped many take bribes.
However, with the emphasis being placed on the subject during the congress, negative practices or ignorance of the issue will also be exposed, Zhu said.
"In other words, stricter supervision and investigation requires the authorities to come more into play."