The Parliament is set to unveil a powerful new anti-graft agency that would extend Chinese President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign from Communist Party members to all civil servants, police officers, prosecutors, the courts and executives of state-owned enterprises.
The National Supervision Commission, which ranks alongside the central government and above the judiciary, will operate independently of the courts against corruption, malfeasance or any lax implementation of political goals by civil servants.
The agency will be able to interrogate and detain suspects for up to six months without a judge’s permission, according to a document read Tuesday at the National People’s Congress, the annual parliamentary session.
The rubber-stamp parliament is set to vote March 20 on a law regulating the commission, which was already enshrined in the constitution on Sunday.
The agency will incorporate the party’s current anti-corruption watchdog, which has punished more than 1.3 million officials since Xi came to power in 2012, including, critics say, the president’s political rivals.
The parliament on Sunday paved the way for Xi, 64, to rule indefinitely by voting to remove presidential term limits. Observers say the new anti-graft commission will amplify his powers.
“It will be a tool to consolidate absolute political control by persecuting enemies, intimidating potential adversaries and hounding everybody else,” said author Gordon Chang.
Also on Tuesday, legislators reviewed a proposal to revamp the Chinese cabinet, as part of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to streamline the government and strengthen the Communist Party’s control over the state.
The banking and insurance regulators will become a single entity, according to the proposal, as China aims to improve its mitigation of financial risks. Local branches of state and local taxation will be merged, the audit office will expand its reach and a new market supervision bureau will be created.
Several new ministries will be created, including a more encompassing Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas as well as ministries for emergency management, ecology and environment, and veteran affairs. The parliament is set to vote on the cabinet revamping on Saturday.