The spirit of the “Long March” should guide the development of sport, Chinese officials proclaimed, after several leading sporting figures were snared in the country’s latest anti-corruption drive.
The reference to the indomitable spirit of the Communist Party’s erstwhile Red Army came as its top corruption-buster, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), launched a team targeting the national sports body.
The inspection team will be stationed at the General Administration of Sport until the end of May.
Top officials including administration director Gao Zhidan and inspection team leader Li Yingchun attended the team’s launch late last month, with pledges to “fully support and fully cooperate with the central government’s inspection”.
“We must … comprehensively standardise governance of the sports industry; restructure a moral environment; strive to promote the sports industry’s high-quality development with the spirit of taking the Long March again; and accelerate the construction of a sports power,” Gao said.
The 1934-35 “Long March” is a significant episode in the history of the Communist Party and its victory in the Chinese civil war, embodying a message of perseverance, unity and dedication.
It refers to the period when the party’s Red Army troops, under siege all the way by the ruling Kuomintang, trekked 18 mountain ranges and 24 rivers to relocate their revolutionary base from southeastern to northwestern China.
“Sports is not only a cause to strengthen the country, but also a cause related to the vital interests of the people,” Li said, adding that the party clearly stated at the 20th national congress in October the sector’s important role in China’s development.
The sports administration, an oversight and regulatory body, has grown in significance as China has sought to become a world-class sports powerhouse.
The new CCDI leadership team, which took office after the congress, has focused on the financial and sports sectors for its latest anti-corruption campaign. The probes have led to the swift dismissal of several top officials over the past month – indicating more regulatory reform might be on the way.
Nine senior officials at the Chinese Football Association (CFA) are now under investigation, including former CFA vice-chairman and deputy head of the sports administration, Du Zhaocai, who was fired earlier this month.
Shortly after, Liu Aijie, former chairman of the country’s rowing and canoeing associations, also entered the investigative process.
There is a wide gap between reality and the expectations that President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people have for the reform and development of football, Xi Hua, the sports administration’s top graft-fighter, told an anti-corruption meeting last week, according to a CCDI-affiliated paper.
Inspection operations head Li Yingchun echoed earlier statements by CCDI chief Li Xi to point out that the probe’s aim was to “provide strong protection for the building of [China as] a sports powerhouse”.
This would be done by looking into and resolving corruption and “deep-seated systemic and mechanical problems” in the sector, he added.
A daily hotline and postbox for tip-offs, a common practice for inspection teams, will be in operation until the end of May.
The 14 other inspection teams apart from the one for sports, including those at state-owned China Everbright Group and China Investment Corporation, also have dedicated hotlines.
Source : SCMP