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Out-Law News 1 min. read

Chinese anti-corruption legislation to be speeded up, says president, as ban on "private clubs" comes into force

New national anti-corruption laws will be "accelerated" and backed with an effective mechanism to punish and prevent corrupt practices, the Chinese government has announced.

The measures were included in plans to "guarantee the rule of law" in China, published following last week's Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee conference. Chinese president Xi Jinping has made tackling corruption a central theme of his administration since taking office last March.

This week, Chinese state media reported that private members' clubs in "public facilities" would be closed down under a new regulation which will come into force this weekend. China's top prosecuting body, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, has also announced that it would use regulations to give legal protection against repercussions to whistleblowers who expose corrupt practices.

Writing on his blog, thebriberyact.com, anti-corruption expert Barry Vitou of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that those who claimed that the "custom" in China was different were mistaken.

"We presume that 'custom' is a euphemism for bribery but that is left unsaid," he said. "China 20 years ago … was a very different place. It is not just the massive development which has taken place since. There were plenty of other things which were absent or at the very least less prevalent then. Bribery is one of them. If bribery is a problem in China, the west has played its part in making it so."

The new regulation on private clubs will prevent them from operating at "historical sites, parks and other public facilities", whether or not they currently have the required licenses, according to China Daily. Clubs will either be closed down or converted into other businesses. China Daily said that the regulation was intended to tackle "extravagant lifestyles and bureaucracy among officials".

In 2012, the CPC central committee issued new guidelines requiring officials to avoid "extravagance and excessive bureaucracy", according to China Daily. Last year the CPC's central commission for discipline inspection, which is China's anti-corruption agency, issued a regulation preventing government officials from attending banquets and recreational activities at private clubs.

A statement published on the website of the Supreme People's Procuratorate this week said that the prosecutor's office would act to "end acts of retaliation against" whistleblowers, according to Reuters. New 'regulations governing the work of whistleblowers' will apply whenever the office receives a whistleblowing report from someone giving their real name, and will require it to "assess the risks from the whistleblowing and develop whistleblower protection plans when necessary", Reuters said.

The CPC's central commission for discipline inspection recently set up a new website through which it is encouraging whistleblowers to file "lawful" reports.

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