A quick look at China’s corruption: how serious is the situation?

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China has officially established a new anti-corruption agency that can investigate government officials across the country. Since taking office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has led a crackdown on corruption in government, business, the private sector and the military. Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a series of measures against political corruption, bribery, money laundering and tax evasion when he took office. 

The campaign has curbed corruption, subjected government agencies to intense scrutiny, and is seen by many in China as a success. Transparency International claims that the most common form of corruption within China is political corruption, bribery, money laundering and tax evasion in government, business, private sector and military. Lecturer Jennifer Pan found that high-ranking authorities routinely covered up actions they could have taken against corrupt officials. A 2015 survey conducted by Charney Research found that 35% of Chinese companies paid bribes to government officials. The 2017 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) found that 26% of respondents in China paid bribes when accessing information about corruption, bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion in the government, business, private sector, and military. This level is far higher than that of China’s developing neighbors. More than half (52%) of respondents in the 2016 Global Corruption Barometer Report said they had paid bribes when accessing public services. Transparency International (TI) has ranked China as the fourth most corrupt country, and outside observers are so impressed by the extent of corruption in China’s political system that they question the legitimacy of the government’s anti-corruption policies. While much corruption took place on the streets during the Maoist era, involving relatively low-ranking officials, corruption was persecuted only by members of the ruling Politburo and the Communist Party’s top leadership, with much of it occurring at the highest levels of government. Under Xi’s government, however, corruption has increased exponentially, with officials pocketing hundreds of thousands of Chinese renminbi in exchange for bribes by manipulating valuable resources, including land and capital. 

China actually has less direct experience of corruption than Singapore, which, according to TI, is one of the five least corrupt countries. On a scale of 1 to 10, where the 10 is considered the most corrupt, corruption within China fell from a peak of 7.57% in 1995 to a low of 6.67% today. A 2016 agreement between Beijing and Islamabad made it easier for the NBCP to work with Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau to combat corruption along the China-Pakistan economic corridor. Until now, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has led to the arrest of more than 1,000 top officials and officials, as well as the prosecution of hundreds of thousands of others. Some 58,000 officials were brought to justice, two of whom were ultimately sentenced to death. In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping announced his “fight against tigers and flies” against senior officials. Lam said Xi had used the campaign to eliminate the Youth League faction led by former President Hu Jintao and the “Shanghai faction” led by former President Jiang Zemin. Xi announced a “new era” for China in a speech to the Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing on July 1, 2013. At the time, the announcement hinted at the hope that China could create a “new era” of transparency and accountability in its political system. But China’s anti-corruption campaign has fallen short of expectations in establishing a long-term legal framework to prevent corruption. Xi has continued to concentrate his power and become one of the most powerful leaders of the world.

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