Yet Another Brilliant Anti-Corruption Campaign

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Politics

First they gave us anti-corruption lapel pins and statues. Then they gave us ethics classes. Now the CCP is throwing out another bone to pacify public impatience with corruption while craftily avoiding anything that might check its absolute power…or actually do anything to curb corruption.

In this case, China is starting a new five-year plan to tackle corruption, Bloomberg reports.

It isn’t immediately clear what this new plan will include, but it sounds awfully familiar to an earlier pronouncement (via Austin Ramsey) entitled “China to Rein in Corruption within 5 Years,” which said:

An official from China’s top discipline watchdog reiterated in Beijing that the country will effectively curb corruption cases within 5 years as effective legal and structural measures become more perfect.

China’s heavier clampdown on corrupt officials during the past several years, including the execution of deputy legislative speaker Cheng Kejie, is preventing officials from thinking of corruption.

That was from January 2001. In case you haven’t noticed, more than a handful of officials have thought about corruption since that five year deadline expired.

So why does corruption persist in spite of all these measures? In my affinity for dumbing things down to very crude analogies, this is China’s anti-corruption apparatus:


“We admit that the whole thing doesn’t quite fly and there are still problems to address,” the government says. “But we’re initiating some bold new reforms over the next five years to effectively curb these problems once and for all”:

Trying to stop corruption but refusing to allow for the rule of law through truly independent police, courts AND real public oversight through a free media is like trying to build a functional airplane but refusing to entertain the concept of lift.

Bloomberg quoted Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore saying, “In the past ten years, the more they fight corruption, the more plans and agencies they set up, the worse the corruption gets.”

By now this should be patently obvious. Anti-corruption initiatives usually consist of two things: parading harsh punishments of the few that are caught and touting greater oversight through some new anti-corruption authority. But the basic systematic framework is still in place, so these agencies just get in on the corruption themselves. The problem now involves more people and more money.

So this looks like the latest in a long long line of nearly identical initiatives meant to appease the public and quell calls for real reform.

He Guoqiang, head of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and #8 man on the Politburo said, “The work of constructing a system of punishing and preventing corruption has shown to be effective.”

The day that ranking officials up to and including himself can be criticized, investigated and indicted by the public is the day we can believe him.

  1. James says:

    “China to Reign in Corruption within 5 Years” – that I could believe, sadly. I think it’s just getting worse.

  2. Godfree says:

    Judging by both the results that the Government of China has delivered in the past 35 years AND by the opinions of the Chinese people–who are connoisseurs of corruption–the Chinese government is the least corrupt major government on earth. Pew, Edelman, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government have carried out dozens of surveys over decades, and the Chinese people consistently give their government trust and approval scores of 85% to 95%.

    And the Chinese, as Kissinger famously observed, are smarter than us.

    Our government, on the other hand, is the most corrupt major government on earth, and the American people consistently reflect that fact. Their latest trust and approval rating is 33% (Pew, August 2012).

    Isn’t it time we gave the “corrupt China” meme a rest and focused on our own dire and immediate problems?

    • sinostand says:

      I’m not sure how a trust of government survey proves that corruption isn’t a problem. It proves perhaps that people are doing economically better than in the past and that there’s an effective propaganda/suppression of information system in place. I’ve personally known several people working in Chinese government agencies (and private companies) who’ve said corruption bleeds into every corner of the office:

      To imply that corruption isn’t a problem in China should be absolutely absurd to anyone who’s ever spent more than a day talking to people here and/or just living a normal life in China.Even the government admits that it’s a big problem.

      “Isn’t it time we gave the “corrupt China” meme a rest and focused on our own dire and immediate problems?”

      Saying this is just as bad as the Chinese who tell me to “focus on your own country’s problems.” This is something I doubt you or they can ever wrap your heads around: I LIVE IN CHINA, WORK IN CHINA, WRITE ON CHINA, AND HAVE THE MAJORITY OF MY PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL INTERESTS IN CHINA. So whatever happens in China IS MY DIRE AND IMMEDIATE PROBLEM.The fact that my passport says USA on it is effectively irrelevant. So you and I really have no “our” to speak of.

      Of course, I take an interest in US issues, but only as a side interest. I write things as I seem them in China for this CHINA blog. The comparable situation in the US isn’t relevant here.

    • Godfree Roberts says:

      Take more interest in your own country and you’ll see steady impoverishment under a ruthless Capitalist regime whose faux-democratic representatives are bought and sold by billionaires.

      Contrast that with China, where even the poorest have been educated and, comparatively, enriched.

      The former indicates that corruption has overwhelmed the nation. The latter demonstrates that it hasn’t.

    • Potomacker says:

      Kissinger? You really want to use his appraisal to bolster your argument? What then is Kissinger’s opinions of Cambodians’ smartness?
      I don’t want to waste any debating you on this, but how do you propose the Chinese got to be the connoisseurs of corruption as you so label them with faint praise?

    • dave says:

      Corruption is so entwined in the Chinese culture that it doesn’t even exist

  3. FOARP says:

    Yes Godfree, corruption so widespread that it is universally experienced by everyone in the country is a ‘meme’, like piano-playing cats or the Chocolate Rain song. Have you ever lived and worked long-term in China?

  4. foarp says:

    Godfree’s potted Bio:

    “Bio: I was born and grew up in Australia, lived 3 years in Japan, then studied at UMass, Amherst, where I received my Doctorate in Education. I taught, started several US companies and lived an enjoyable life, including flying to Paris regularly for the French Open. I was married for 36 years, mostly in California. I’m now 72 years old and enjoying life more than ever, to my great surprise.”

    So I guess, if he ever did live in China, he didn’t think it worth mentioning here. He now will lives happily in Thailand as a retiree.

    Some stories:

    – When I first lived in China I worked for a university which was building a new campus outside the city. The buildings at the new campus very quickly displayed problems: concrete beams sagged, ‘rusticles’ formed from cracks in the concrete where it appeared that the steel reinforcings had rusted. It quickly became clear that extremely sub-standard materials had been used in the construction, despite the high budget for the building of the new campus.

    There was not even the slightest hint of shock amongst either the students or the faculty when a vice president of the university was executed for buying cheap materials and pocketing the difference. The main sentiment was of the slight injustice in that pretty much the entire university management was involved but only a scape-goat was punished.

    Pretty much every development project I’ve come into contact with in China suffered from the same kinds of rake-offs, this incident was only remarkable for the execution. The instant I heard of dozens of schools falling to pieces crushing thousands of children trapped inside them to death during the Sichuan earthquake whilst buildings around them remained standing, I thought of this.

    – The pirate DVD shops and 24-hour ‘barber shops’ in my neighbourhood which somehow managed to be closed whenever the police came round.

    – The people at China Unicom I knew who took bribes to give access to text messages which could then be used for extortion.

    – The official in provincial government who I knew and occasionally used to have lunch with who would pay for everything on expenses, and who pocketed the compensation he was supposed to pay out to farmers for the land he was responsible for expropriating.

    – The student I knew at a low-ranked university who had had her marks for the university entrance exam stolen from her by the son of an official through bribery.

    And so on. And these aren’t things I read about in the newspaper or people I went out of my way to meet, but instead were things I cam across in passing. Anyone who has lived in China will be able to tell similar stories.The figures published by Pew (which are not approval figures for the government, but the results of a limited survey of the most accessible part of the urban population into attitudes about the general direction of the country) do not reflect attitudes towards officialdom, which are in the main very cynical.

  5. kingtubby1 says:

    Godfree. Passport withdrawn by Oz govt for base idiocy.

    Aw FOARP. All those stories and more. I particularly resented the occasional crackdown on dvd stores. The owners used to communicate to me with finger signals. 5 fingers meant we’re back in biz in yes, 5 days. etc.

    Like the bridge story on Richard’s site, infrastructure projects are all about onselling the contract and creaming off your 10%. The lucky last is responsible for the final crap result.

  6. Maofucious says:

    Very nice…nothing too groundbreaking to anyone who knows about the problem and is interested in fixing it, but perhaps with better photoshopping and sarcasm than I could have done.

  7. fdawei says:

    “China to Rein in Corruption within 5 Years,” I think the leadership and the anti-corruption people need five years to develop an detection-free EFT system where the corruption will be undertaken by stealth. Certainly, as we have read time and time again, there are thousands of hackers in China hard at work prying into the secrets of foreign governments and overseas companies.for the Chinese government. It would be a relatively simple task for the government to assign a special task force to create a “CCPSP” Chinese Corruption Policy SuperPAC, akin to the SuperPAC in the US where the donors don’t have to be identified and the funds are deposited in the utmost secrecy, with no paper trail.

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