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China's Xi calls for 'sweeping victory' in anti-graft campaign

527,000 people were punished for discipline violations in 2017, party body says

Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves after a press conference with his French counterpart in Beijing on Jan. 9.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping, who consolidated power by waving the anti-corruption banner, has vowed to continue to tackle official abuses during his second term as Communist Party chief.

The party must achieve a "sweeping victory in the fight against corruption," Xi told members of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Thursday. The watchdog was meeting for its second plenary session under newly appointed chief Zhao Leji.

The commission is expected to issue a communique when the session ends Saturday. It announced before the meeting that 527,000 party and government figures were punished for disciplinary violations last year, up 27% from 2016. Of these, the number ranked at the provincial and ministerial level or higher fell to 58 from 76 in 2016.

The Xi administration plans in March to establish a "national supervision commission" -- a powerful new agency tasked with investigating corruption not just within the party but also among all public servants. Enforcement functions scattered throughout multiple organizations will be concentrated in this entity.

Zhao, the discipline committee chief, took over for Wang Qishan, who oversaw the anti-corruption campaign during Xi's first term.

Both low-level "flies" and high-ranking "tigers" have been caught in the net. One powerful figure after another fell to the crackdown, including Zhou Yongkang, a member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, and Sun Zhengcai, party boss for Chongqing.

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