China’s Renewed Focus on Anti-Corruption Efforts Highlighted by a New Interpretation on Criminal Offense of Paying Bribes – By Sherry Xiaowei Yin, Timothy W. Blakely, Daniel P. Levison, and Calvin Mingyi Jin
In the three months since the Communist Party of China (the “CPC”) convened its 18th National Congress in November 2012, the CPC’s new leaders, including newly appointed CPC General Secretary and China’s incoming president Xi Jinping, repeatedly have emphasized the important policy goal of combatting corruption. In several speeches since Mr. Xi took over the reins of the CPC, he cautioned that corruption could lead to “the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state,” and has stressed that anti-corruption efforts need to target both “flies” and “tigers,” meaning both low and senior level officials.
In keeping with this theme, new regulations from the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission have restricted practices such as ostentatious floral displays and luxury banquets for officials. More recently, the Xinhua state news agency reported in advance of the Spring Festival holiday that Chinese radio and television stations were to ban advertisements for expensive gifts such as watches and gold coins, and the People’s Daily even warned that Valentine’s Day had become an opportunity for fraud and corruption among some party members. High-profile stories of corruption—often fed by the burgeoning Chinese blogosphere, including 400 million users of Weibo’s microblog and countless exchanges over QQ’s instant messaging service—have become mainstays in both Western and Chinese media outlets.
This recent public emphasis on fighting corruption in China should not overlook the fact that China’s Criminal Law long has penalized both giving and receiving bribes by government officials. Now, however, new interpretation regarding China’s criminal prohibition on paying bribes may prove to be particularly important in China’s effort to combat corruption.
On December 26, 2012, the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate issued the Interpretation on Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Laws in Handling Criminal Cases of Paying Bribes (the “Interpretation”), which took effect on January 1, 2013. The Interpretation reiterates and further clarifies a number of key terms and issues under the Criminal Law of China with respect to paying bribes and punishment of this crime.