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Life sentences urged for gambling cadres
12/3/2005 8:52

Amid a growing public clamor over state officials who use public money for gambling, 31 lawmakers attending the ongoing annual session of China's legislature have called for stiffer penalties against those caught violating the law.
In a joint motion, the deputies to the National People's Congress said they want prison terms for public officials caught gambling public money to rise from the current three years to a life sentence, said Niu Xiaoming, one of measure's sponsors.
Following a growing wave of high-level officials caught at the gaming tables, the Chinese government launched a nationwide crackdown in January. Special efforts were devoted to civil servants who squandered public money in casinos located in neighboring countries.
In one of the cases, Cai Haowen, an official from the Yanbian autonomous prefecture in northeastern China's Jilin Province, was caught embezzling 2.76 million yuan (US$332,530) from his department and borrowing 750,000 yuan from companies under his supervision from January to November last year.
Cai made 27 trips to a neighboring nation and squandered all the money in a casino before fleeing late last year, authorities said. He was captured last month.
Li daoming, an NPC deputy and president of the Henan Province Higher People's Court, said he has a deep hatred for leading officials who uses bribes or embezzled public funds for gambling abroad.
"By doing so, they will not only ruin their family and social morals, but undermine the authority of the government and tarnish the image of the country," he said.
In a work report submitted by the Supreme People's Court to the NPC session, Chief Justice Xiao Yang said his court will give priority to dealing with gambling cases this year. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China also stated in mid-January that all Party leaders who involve themselves in gambling will be dismissed, and those who go to gamble in casinos outside China will be punished severely.
According to the latest report from the office in charge of the nationwide crackdown on gambling, 92 of some 160 gambling houses have been closed.
Lu binghua, director of the public security department of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, which neighbors Vietnam, said local authorities have stopped granting visas to Chinese tourists going anywhere beyond the border where casinos are operating. Telecommunications service, water and electricity to the gambling houses have also been cut off.
Bai gexiang, head of the Guangxi branch of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said local banks have beefed up their management of large cash transactions and have banned citizens in the autonomous region from using their bank cards and accounts to access Internet gambling sites outside China.
The crackdown on gambling is by no means "a flash in the pan," Lu said.
Authorities say they are considering a long-term mechanism to keep Chinese citizens from going abroad to gamble, including conferring with governments in the countries where the gambling dens are located.