A chronic political illness, an analysis of corruption and anti-corruption in contemporary China

Thumbnail Image
Sun, Yunbo
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study highlights structural and cultural approaches. It argues that corruption in modern times is partially derived from the long history of imperial China characterized by absolute bureaucratic powers and widespread power abuses. Traditional norms and value system, which may exert stable and lasting influence on human behaviour, are able to induce official corruption even in the socialist conditions, without regard to frequent replacements of different regimes or any institutional changes. It is also shown that official corruption in communist China is rooted in the defects inherent in its political and economic structures. The potential incidence and the persistence of certain patterns of official corruption might have been predetermined by these institutional or systemic factors. While the public ownership of means of production and the central planning system have predestined the bureaucracy's overmanagement of the economy and society and vested Party officials with too much discretionary power, economic reform as well as a series of other unsophisticated reform policies, on the other hand, have further intensified this power overconcentration and stimulated the geneses and spread of certain malpractices. Moreover, the lack of a powerful and independent supervisory mechanism, both internal and external, is also conducive to corruption. There is no political opposition, nor is there independent legislation and media in a real sense in today's China. The judiciary and the internal supervisory systems are also problematic and short of the necessary authority and independence. Given these systems' vulnerability to power intervention and the institutional defects inherent in the political structure, it appears inevitable that public power without necessary systemic restraint and supervision would increase the incidence of corruption. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)