China to place permanent anti-graft teams in major departments

BEIJING (Reuters) - The corruption watchdog of China's ruling Communist Party will establish permanent offices in some of the country's most important party and government departments, state media said on Friday, as part of a sweeping campaign against graft.

Teams will be based in the cabinet office and parliament, as well as the party's powerful organization department, which oversees personnel decisions, propaganda department and United Front Work Department, which deals with non-Communists, the official Xinhua news agency said.

While numerous corruption inspection teams have fanned out across the country in recent months, this is the first time such offices have been placed in crucial arms of the government, and paves the way for similar permanent offices.

"The central party and government authorities are organs of supreme power and main center of the country's governance system," Chen Wenqing, deputy head of the party's graft watchdog, was quoted as saying.

"However, graft cases in recent years within some of these organs have caused very bad impacts ... It is imperative and very necessary to strengthen supervision over them."

President Xi Jinping launched a tough crackdown graft after becoming party chief in late 2012 and president last year, warning, like others before him, that the problem is so serious it threatens the party's very survival.

He has vowed to take down powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Last week the government announced the arrest of former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of China's most powerful politicians of the last decade, accusing him of crimes ranging from accepting bribes to leaking state secrets.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)