China’s top anti-graft watchdog on Thursday reaffirmed its pledge of zero tolerance to corrupt practices in the country’s infrastructure development project to build global trade routes known as the New Silk Roads.

La Yifan, the head of the anti-corruption body of the Communist Party of China, said that since there were "thousands of projects worldwide, it's impossible to send our people to all" of them.

Thus "it is not only in (the companies') interest but in the interest of the country as well to fulfill (their duties) with integrity and compliance,” the Director-General of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection International Cooperation Department told reporters in Beijing.

“In host countries, (the Chinese companies must) play by the rules.”

The commission launched a pilot program in December 2017 on one of the routes' (officially named One Belt One Road initiative) most prominent projects, the China-Laos Railway, to "make sure this is a clean project."

In collaboration with Laotian anti-corruption authorities, inspections are carried out twice a year and officials go through every detail to ensure complete transparency that has helped to put an end to malpractices.

La believed that there was still much work to be done as law-breaking practices, he said, have not been rooted out completely.

“It has to do with human nature. They're smart thieves, not petty thieves. They are well-educated and well-positioned," he said. "But our message to them is: no matter how high you are positioned or who are you related to (...) we will go after them. Zero tolerance."

The initiative has provided a platform for Chinese companies to expand overseas, although, according to Wang Xiumei, a researcher at Beijing Normal University, when Chinese companies went abroad "they did not do much research about that country, which led to misunderstandings about local legal systems and local environment", primarily in the manner of fraud.

China Director of World Bank, Martin Reiser, said most Chinese companies that the bank has worked with "have done an excellent work" while the Deputy Director of the National Supervisory Commission, Li Shulei, said the anti-corruption campaign has yielded remarkable results on the initiative.

However, asked to offer information on the corruption cases found so far, the officials did not provide details. EFE-EPA