|China on Thursday announced the establishment of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention (NBCP) in Beijing, a deterrent to corruption activities.
The bureau aims to monitor the flow of suspicious assets and suspicious corruption activities by establishing an information-sharing system among prosecuting organs, courts, police authorities and banks.
"The NBCP staff will collect and analyze information from sectors including banks, land use, medicine and telecommunications, and share it with other relevant departments," said Qu Wanxiang, deputy head of the bureau at a press conference.
With this information, the bureau will be able to monitor the ingoing and outgoing finances of officials and detect suspicious behavior, he said.
"This is an important basic job for finding and exposing corruption as early as possible, a deterrent to corruption activities and an effective way to prevent corruption," he said.
The new bureau will report directly to the State Council, or China's cabinet.
But he also noted that the bureau would not be involved in the investigation of individual cases.
The bureau will also guide the anti-corruption work in companies, public undertakings and non-governmental organizations, help trade associations to establish self-discipline systems and mechanisms, prevent commercial bribery, and extend corruption prevention work to rural organizations as well as urban communities.
"Corruption not only happens among civil servants in government departments, but also among employees in private sectors and other organizations," Qu said.
The bureau will also engage in international cooperation and international aid in corruption prevention, according to Qu.
The bureau will, under the framework of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, offer help to developing countries on corruption prevention and work to win technical support and other assistance from foreign countries or international organizations, Qu said.
He said the bureau will learn from the anti-corruption experience of foreign countries and is keen to exchange information with international organizations and other countries.
"The bureau has been founded to meet the need to prevent corruption in China effectively," said Ma Wen, the Minister of Supervision who was appointed the bureau head last Thursday.
Ma, 59, is also deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
She said the bureau will study ways to stem corruption at its root, constantly improve corruption prevention systems, push for the sound operation of these systems and coordinate the corruption prevention efforts of various departments.
"I think this will be a tough job, even tougher than investigating a high-profile official involved in a corruption scandal," said Professor Ren Jianmin, from the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University.
The work to close up loopholes and reform current policies will meet with resistance as it might harm the interests of some powerful people, he said.
The bureau has been assigned the task to push forward transparency of government information at various levels, which Qu said is the way to "prevent corruption at its root".
The NBCP will evaluate loopholes in new policies that may give rise to corruption and study countermeasures, inspect corruption prevention work at various levels, conduct pilot projects and develop a set of standards to judge whether a department or an official is clean.
The country has punished a number of ministerial-level or higher officials for "serious corruption" in the last five years, including the former director of the National Bureau of Statistics Qiu Xiaohua, the former food and drug administration head Zhen Xiaoyu, former party head of Shanghai Chen Liangyu.
In 2006, more than 90,000 officials were disciplined, accounting for 0.14 percent of the total CPC members.
"We can't count on punishment only. It will take effect for some time but can not touch the root of corruption. We need to enhance the preventive measures," said Yan Qunli, a CCDI official in charge of anti-corruption publicity and education programs.