Too early to celebrate China’s anti-corruption program

PRC News is very upbeat about a CNN article on the “de-Jiangification” of China, i.e., rectifying Jiang Zemin’s legacy of corruption.

It all sounds really good. Hu is apparently trying to set up processes to help identify and deal with intra-party corruption. There’s no doubt it’s a big step in the right direction.

But before I wax enthusiastic, I’m going to wait and see. The CCP is always claiming to be cracking down on corruption, and you can find a steady stream of articles going back years about officials arrested for graft. Still, there’s been no real shift. So I remain skeptical, because a one-party system invites corruption by its very nature.

Reform is as reform does, so let’s see what Hu Jintao accomplishes. And let’s also see if Jiang Zemin just lets it happen without a good fight.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

“because a one-party system invites corruption by its very nature”

I’d have to disagree with the above quote. Despite all its faults, the CCP before the reforms of the 80’s was pretty clean in terms of corruption. Singapore also has pretty much a one-party system and it is not plagued by problems of corruption. On the other hand, there are quite a few incredibly corrupt multi-party democracies. For example, corruption is said to be much worse in India than in China. Of course, this is not to say that I think single-party systems are superior than multi-party democracies, but only that corruption is often the result of numerous factors (e.g. economic disparity, culture, government structure, etc) and cannot be solely attributed to how many political parties there are.

September 28, 2003 @ 1:43 am | Comment

Take a look at my post on Singapore, where I comment on the anomaly of Singapore not being mired in corruption and other nightmares so often accompanying one-party systems. It is, to my knowledge, unprecedented and should probably not be pointed to as an example of how good one-party systems can be.

There is always going to be corruption in every government, multi-party or otherwise. Once we have a body charged with dispersing huge amounts of tax dollars, some of those dollars are going to quietly disappear. In China, we are talking about corruption that is a part of everyday life in terms of local taxes local brutality — at least for those outside the big coastal citites. But even there it can be nasty. Please read this heartbreaking article to see how unique corruption in China can be — it ain’t like corruption in any other place I’ve ever been. It goes way beyond siphoning off some shekels. I suspect it is not like corruption in India, either. The fact that the story is nbeing told is wonderful; but the article points out how such horrors remain an everyday occurrence.

Last thought: In general, and despite anecdotal evidence otherwise (like the Singapore example) a one-party system by its nature is more prone to corruption. There are no checks and balances. No true legal system. The media is state-owned, so those oppressed are guaranteed having no voice. This would not be the case in a functional, truly multi-party system.

September 28, 2003 @ 5:11 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.