Can China’s police be uncorrupted?

It’s gone too far, and the CCP says it is now fighting hard against China’s infamously corrupt police, announcing the firing of more than 30,000 dirty cops.

Being a Chinese police officer means never having to pay for cigarettes or liquor or dinner or haircuts or vacations, if you don’t want to. When that doesn’t suffice, extra cash can come from payoffs to protect friends or release suspects.

It is all part of a system so vulnerable to corruption and misconduct that China’s government appears fed up. The minister in charge of law enforcement, in a candid assessment, has vowed to “resolutely stop malignant violations that offend the heavens.”

With the alarm sounded, China announced last month that it had fired more than 33,000 “unqualified” officers as part of a campaign to professionalize a police force with a reputation for ignoring the law when it chooses.

Whether the new crackdown makes any difference remains to be seen, and if past history is any indicator, there’s no cause for celebration. Crackdowns on all sorts of corruption are announced frequently in China, and often result in some high-profile trials and lots of arrests and executions. And then they are quietly forgotten, and everything returns to the status quo.

The article interviews an anonymous cop who talks about “the dark side” of the law in China. His station chief drives a fancy European car that everyone knows his salary couldn’t possibly pay for, and anyone can get a charge against them dropped by paying a special “fine.” Cops also seem to have a penchant for murdering traffic offenders, and for locking people up indefinitely (and torturing them too, of course).

The article ends on an upbeat note, implying that this time the crackdown just might work, resulting in a kinder, gentler (i.e., less murderous and less corrupt) police force. My guess is cops will be more discreet and careful. But corruption is literally their way of life. How easy is it to give up the European car and the inflated salary? Especially when they know the officials doing the crackdowns are as guilty as they are.

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