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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Fighting corruption with big data
    2018-January-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Wu Guangqiang

jw368@163.com

IT’s an unassailable fact that the once rampant corruption has been greatly kept in check in China since Xi Jinping took the helm in 2012 as the Party leader.

On Nov. 15, 2012, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi declared war on corruption: “If we continue to tolerate the unbridled graft, the demise of our Party and nation is unavoidable.” Xi drove home the grave nature of the battle.

Since then, not a single day has gone by without scouring and punishing corrupt officials, both “tigers” and “flies.” On Dec. 12 of the same year, only one month after Xi pledged to wipe out corruption, Li Chuncheng, the then deputy Party chief of Sichuan Province, was charged in connection with corruption, marking the beginning of a massive crackdown on corrupt officials.

After that, many high-ranking officials were brought down, including some members of the central leadership: Zhou Yongkang, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, Ling Jihua and Su Rong.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, 1.37 million officials at various levels have been given disciplinary punishment by the Party or government agencies. Seventy-six and 38 provincial officials were dealt with disciplinary or legal action respectively in 2016 and 2017.

The width and depth of the anti-corruption drive and the determination to accomplish it are unprecedented.

Yet it’s way too early to regard this as a triumph. Corruption has invaded the tissue of the Party and society like a tough and intractable virus.

Look at the following cases and you may see how difficult it is to eradicate the plague. A vice mayor of a city in Shanxi embezzled more than 640 million yuan (US$98 million), which was almost the total revenue of nine poverty-stricken counties last year.

“Flies” can inflict damage upon the people and the State as badly as “tigers.” A subsection chief in a poverty-stricken county with a meager annual fiscal revenue of 400 million yuan absconded overseas with stolen money amounting to 100 million yuan. A junior employer of an agricultural service center in another poor county embezzled 125 million yuan by fabricating fake data.

As for tiny “flies” throughout all the social cells, ranging from village chiefs to traffic policemen, the menace they pose by abusing their powers is no lesser than that by huge “tigers.” Some village officials even filched from poverty-relief grants meant for poor farmers.

Given the huge number of the officials across the country and the enormous cost of investigating corruption cases, it’s a mission impossible to win the anti-graft battle merely by human efforts. For instance, it’s time- and money-consuming to verify all the details of a corruption case involving a village chief, as investigators have to visit numerous agencies, banks and other institutions to gather evidence. It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack.

The advent of big data and cloud computing has offered an effective tool for the job. In some cities including Shenzhen and Foshan in Guangdong and Guiyang in Guizhou, information barriers are being removed between different divisions and sectors to allow the sharing of such personal information as bank savings, ownership of property and traffic vehicles and even individual consumption records. Every trace of suspected official’s illegal activities can be tracked with the click of a mouse.

In some mountainous areas, big data enable watchdogs to track every applicant who applies for poverty grants and disqualify those whose assets exceeds the poverty line, a function which was unlikely in the absence of big data. Quite a few recipients of poverty subsidies are found to own property, cars, even businesses. Without big data, they would have gotten away with cheating the system.

The performance of such state-of-the-art technology is impressive. Impersonal technology is much more reliable than humans, however dedicated and enthusiastic they are.

When China succeeds in establishing a nationwide network for sharing all the information on every individual, wiping out the scourge of corruption will be achieved. Of course, legislation must be made to ensure the safety of personal information.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

 

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