BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party would like to see more party bosses held accountable for allowing corruption to happen on their watch, something that rarely happens now, a senior official told a newspaper on Monday.
The Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection, the party's anti-graft watchdog, said in November it would target all senior officials as part of reforms to deepen its war on pervasive corruption.
President Xi Jinping has pursued an aggressive drive against corruption since coming to power, vowing to pursue high-flying "tigers" as well as lowly "flies", and warning that the problem is so serious it could threaten the party's power.
In an interview with the party's official People's Daily newspaper, Li Xueqin, head of the anti-graft watchdog's research division, said that the party still had a long way to go to hold officials accountable for ignoring corruption.
"We often hear that such-and-such a government leader has been held responsible and investigated for large safety incidents," Li said, referring to officials being reprimanded for mine disasters or transport crashes which happen because rules have been ignored by underlings.
"But rarely do we hear about a local party boss or discipline inspection boss being investigated and held responsible for not effectively enforcing party conduct and clean government (rules)," he added.
"This situation has to change," Li said. "If we discover the leadership or leading officials neglecting their duties on building up party conduct and clean government, we will trace it back to whoever is responsible, and certainly will not let them muddle through as a group."
Regional governments and other departments will have lists drawn up clearly outlining who is responsible for what, he said, as the government targets an old problem of its orders being largely ignored at the local level.
"At the end of the day, finding out who to blame is crucial for building up party conduct and clean government. If this does not happen, then the concept of responsibility means nothing," Li said.
Xi has not only targeted corrupt practices like bribe taking, but also extravagance and waste, as he seeks to assuage public anger over perceived corruption in the civil service and Communist Party offices.
While many of those caught up in the anti-graft sweep have been relatively junior, Xi has begun to take on more significant figures.
Last week, the party announced that a deputy minister in the powerful Ministry of Public Security was being investigated for "suspected serious law and discipline violations", which normally means corruption.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Sally Huang; Editing by Robert Birsel)