China’s Corruption-Plagued Province Aims to Purify Political Air Through Local Elections

(Xinhua News Agency, June 7, 2016. Complete text:) Taiyuan - North China’s Shanxi Province has launched an innovative way to select candidates for its local elections, hoping for a cleaner political environment after a spate of corruption cases.

The township-level leadership transition ended in early May and the county-level election is under way in Shanxi’s Lyuliang, the first prefecture-level city in the province to try the new system.

This year, there will be elections in over 2,850 county-level regions and more than 32,000 townships.

In Shanxi Province, more than 300 positions were left vacant as a large number of officials were implicated in graft, including seven provincial-level officials. Media outlets have described the ousting as a "cave-in."

Under such circumstances, the way in which officials are selected and promoted has become a thorny issue, said Wang Rulin, secretary of Shanxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

To prepare for the elections once every five years, the province last year examined all of its 70,000 officials, resulting in more than 5,000 being penalized for violating the CPC codes of conduct.

To date, six documents have been issued to stop "problematic" officials from being promoted.

"We have to learn a lesson," said Wang.

Surprise interview.

On a workday afternoon, Li Hongzuo, vice president of the Party school in Lyuliang City, rushed to an emergency meeting. When he arrived, he was informed that he was one of 38 officials to be assigned the role of inspector. They were tasked with interviewing all of the city’s candidates for official positions.

The inspectors had all communication to the outside world cut.

Almost at the same time, Li Ruigang, a township-level official in the city’s management center for government services, was informed he had to attend "training" at the Party ...

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