Measures taken to prevent Chinese officials' inaction

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China's ruling party defends its anti-corruption campaign

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has defended itself against criticism that its anti-corruption campaign has led to inaction among civil servants and party officials afraid to get into trouble.

It said these cases are few and that measures are being taken to prevent such inertia.

"There is such a phenomenon (of do-nothing officials) but this involves only very few officials and only some individual cases in certain localities," said vice-minister Qi Yu of the CCP's Organisation Department, which handles the party's personnel matters, yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing 19th national congress of the party.

He was responding to a question on the problem of government and party officials going passive or quitting to join the private sector as a result of the far-reaching anti-graft campaign that President Xi Jinping launched after he took the helm of the party in 2012.

Observers warn that China's economic growth has stalled as a result of the campaign, which causes local government officials, usually drivers of economic improvisation and adaptation to changing conditions, to turn passive.

This is because policy innovations sometimes entail political risk such as unpopular decisions, new policies or engagement in business, which may lead to charges of corruption under the campaign.

The anti-corruption drive has forced local officials to become risk averse, noted Assistant Professor Ang Yuen Yuen of Chicago University, writing in The Conversation website.

"But China's speedy growth in the past decades was precisely fuelled by the bold initiatives and discretionary actions of local leaders," she wrote.