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China Congress pushes for tough new anti-corruption laws

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping capitalised on Monday’s National People’s Congress (NPC) support for his plan to end two-term limits for elected positions by centralising the battle against corruption.

The NPC began its third and final reading yesterday of a draft law to merge the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog body with one overseeing the civil service to form a new National Supervision Commission, independent of the Cabinet, courts and prosecutors.

The process, described by state media as “aiming at a centralised, unified, authoritative and efficient supervisory network under the party’s leadership,” would extend the new body’s authority over large numbers of workers in the public sector.

It would be able to detain suspects for up to six months without judicial oversight.

Authorities must inform the suspect’s family and work unit of their detention within 24 hours, except in cases where evidence might be destroyed or the investigation otherwise impeded, according to a text of the draft law.

The congress also initiated a review of a major reorganisation of government agencies, including the establishment of a Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs to oversee the welfare of millions of retired soldiers.

Some former soldiers, including veterans of the 1950-53 Korean war, have staged sporadic street protests in Beijing and elsewhere to demand higher pensions and improved benefits.

Plans were also announced to create a regulator to oversee banking and insurance industries as they try to reduce debt and financial risk.

State Councillor Wang Yong briefed NPC delegates on plans to rejig and reduce Cabinet ministries  to downsize central government.

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