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Theatrics for promotions: Corruption in China
The Epoch Times
2/24/2004

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Over the past decade corruption cases involving Chinese government officials have been on the increase. The corruption in Mainland China's higher levels of government policymaking and financial decision-making has a negative effect on the whole country. Officials are directing more effort into appearing competent and successful, then in actually doing their jobs.

A recent corruption case gives a good example. The case involves Men Xianxue, the former secretary of Municipal Party Committee, in Taian, Shandong. In order to gain promotions, he reported to his superiors that under his management, the farmers in Taian were doing very well in raising cattle. He also requested that a team of supervisors come and inspect his management of the city’s many villages.

When the supervisors came, they were showered with gifts and money. Men Xianxue’s supervisors graded his management of several villages around the city. After several days, the supervisors saw that Men had managed well the farmers in each village. On the basis of that report, Men Xianxue was promoted to youth representative in the national Chinese Communist Party Congress.

However, the fact is that before the supervisors visited each village, in the middle of the night, Men Xianxue arranged for people to drive the same healthy cattle to each village. Most of each village’s cattle were poorly raised, and the farmers were mistreated. Yet Men Xianxue managed to deceive the supervisors into thinking each village was raising healthy cattle well.

Another example of the increased corruption in China is with the case of Wang Huaizhong, the former Deputy Province Governor of Anhui Province (similar to a state governor in the U.S.). When Wang was working in Buyang City, Anhui Province he arbitrarily changed the gross domestic product (GDP) figure from the actual statistic of 4.7% to a fabricated 22%. He misreported his region’s growth in such a way throughout the 1990s. He also started many money laundering projects, until his arrest in 2002. By the time of his arrest, Wang had left Buyang City with a $2 billion financial deficit.

When Wang was still secretary of the Municipal Party Committee, his supervisors visited him from Beijing. The supervisors came to inspect Wang’s management of Haozhou City. Wang deceived the supervisors, just like Men XueXian, by intimidating the poorest farmers into lying that the young leader had helped them to become wealthy. Wang was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to death in December 2003.

Yet officials like Men Xianxue and Wang Huaizhong aren't hard to find among Chinese officials.

In 2003 alone, 13 Provincial Governor-level officials were dismissed or sentenced for corruption. During January to November 2003, 2,603 County/Section-level officials were dismissed for corruption.

The economic loss created by corruption is staggering. Transparency International, a non-governmental organization based in Berlin and dedicated to stamping out corruption, estimates the loss from corrupt officials at 15% of China’s GDP. According to Hu Angang, Section head of State Situation Research Center, Tsinghua University, the loss from corruption in China, in the latter half of the 1990s to the present was 13.2% to 16.8% of GDP.

The bottom line is that paper work and statistical figures cannot stop corruption.

Since the 15th Chinese Communist Party Congress in 1997, over 2000 regulations or policies have been set up to stop corruption. Among these, about 120 were set up by Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, (virtually the highest law and policy enforcing department), and the Ministry of Supervision.

Yet corruption is getting worse in China, and the policies can't be looked at seriously when even the disciplinary departments are corrupt, and more concerned with image than effect. For example, Zhang Wenkang and Men Xuenong were both dismissed during the SARS crisis, only to be given different positions in September and November 2003, respectively, when the international heat on China had died down. Zhang became deputy chairman of Soong Ching Ling Foundation, and Men became deputy head of South-to-North Water Diversion project.

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