Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

BEIJING--China’s leadership plans to establish a state institution in March 2018 to crack down on corrupt public servants at all levels, a move that could further consolidate President Xi Jinping’s power, inside sources said.

The “state inspection commission” is expected to be on the same level as the State Council (government) and other influential organizations, according to the sources from the Communist Party of China.

Xi has promoted anti-corruption policies, fearing continued malfeasance by government officials could erode public trust in the Communist Party-led administration and endanger its existence.

So far, anti-corruption campaigns have been conducted mainly by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and inspectors from the party’s headquarters dispatched to local governments and other organizations.

However, the commission has mainly investigated high-ranking party officials, and the dispatch of inspectors has been an interim measure.

The new state inspection commission is expected to become a permanent organization that will uncover corrupt acts of public servants of the central and local governments, including both members and nonmembers of the Communist Party.

Members of the commission will investigate staff workers at all public organizations, including administrative institutions, judicial organs, schools and hospitals.

The commission will be established after the Xi-led administration starts its second five-year term with the party convention scheduled for autumn 2017.

Organizations of the central and local governments in China also have divisions to crack down on corruption by their officials. However, the divisions are part of the organizations, and it is difficult for division members to expose acts of corruption by their superiors.

In contrast, the state inspection commission will have significant power because it will be given the same status as the government.

Although the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection continues to exist, it is highly likely that its functions and staff members will be integrated into the new state inspection commission, the sources said.

Corruption, such as bribes and kickbacks, has been rampant in connection with economic activities and administrative procedures in China.

The new state inspection commission is expected to prompt public servants to clean up their acts and show a stricter stance against corruption.

The change could influence the way Japanese companies and their employees do business in China.

The Chinese leadership set up inspection commissions in Zhejiang province, Shanxi province and Beijing city on an experimental basis from late last month. The effects of those commissions for a year will be analyzed to prepare for the start of the state inspection commission.

An inspection commission will be also set up in each local government throughout the country.

The top post of the state inspection commission could go to Wang Qishan, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, who has played a leading role in Xi’s anti-corruption policies.