Corruption in China

Corruption in China post-1949 refers to the abuse of political power for private ends typically by members of the Chinese Communist Party, who hold the majority of power in the People's Republic of China. Since the Chinese economic reforms began, corruption has been attributed to "organizational involution"[1] caused by the market liberalization reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping. Like other socialist economies that have undertaken economic reforms, such as post-Soviet Eastern Europe and Central Asia, reform-era China has experienced increasing levels of corruption.[2]

Cadre corruption in China has been subject to significant media attention since Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping announced his Anti-corruption campaign following the 18th National Congress which was held in November 2012.[3]

Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 77th place out of 180 countries.[4] Means of corruption include graft, bribery, embezzlement, backdoor deals, nepotism, patronage, and statistical falsification.[5]

Public surveys on the mainland since the late 1980s have shown that it is among the top concerns of the general public. According to Yan Sun, Associate Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York, it was cadre corruption, rather than a demand for democracy as such, that lay at the root of the social dissatisfaction that led to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[2] Corruption undermines the legitimacy of the CPC, adds to economic inequality, undermines the environment, and fuels social unrest.[6]

Since the June 4 incident, corruption has not slowed down as a result of greater economic freedom, but instead has grown more entrenched and severe in its character and scope. Business deals often involve corruption.[7] In popular perception, there are more dishonest CPC officials than honest ones, a reversal of the views held in the first decade of reform of the 1980s.[2] China specialist Minxin Pei argues that failure to contain widespread corruption is among the most serious threats to China's future economic and political stability.[6] Bribery, kickbacks, theft, and waste of public funds costs at least three percent of GDP, he estimates.

Many high ranking government and military officials have been found guilty of corruption since Xi came to power in 2012.

Historical overview

Imperial China

The spread of corruption in traditional China is often connected to the Confucian concept of renzhi (人治; rénzhì; 'Rule of the people') as opposed to the legalist "rule of law" (法治; Fǎzhì). Profit was despised as preoccupation of the base people, while the true Confucians were supposed to be guided in their actions by the moral principle of justice (; ; ). Thus, all relations were based solely on mutual trust and propriety. As a matter of course, this kind of moral uprightness could be developed only among a minority. The famous attempt of Wang Anshi to institutionalize the monetary relations of the state, thus reducing corruption, were met with sharp criticism by the Confucian elite. As a result, corruption continued to be widespread both in the court (Wei Zhongxian, Heshen) and among the local elites, and became one of the targets for criticism in the novel Jin Ping Mei. Another kind of corruption came about in Tang China, developed in connection with the imperial examination system.

In the late Ming dynasty, robust international trade brought an influx of silver into China, enriching merchants and becoming a target of government officials. In the early 1600s, literary works like The Book of Swindles created typologies of fraud, including categories such as "Government Underlings" and "Corruption in Education."[8]

Republican era

The widespread corruption of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, is often credited as being an important component in the defeat of the KMT by the Communist People's Liberation Army. Though the Nationalist Army was initially better equipped and had superior numbers, the KMT's rampant corruption damaged its popularity, limited its support base, and helped the communists in their propaganda war.

People's Republic of China

Getting high quality, reliable, and standardised survey data on the severity of corruption in the PRC is enormously difficult. However, a variety of sources can still be tapped, which "present a sobering picture," according to Minxin Pei, an academic with expertise on Chinese affairs.[9]

Official deviance and corruption have taken place at both the individual and unit level since the founding of the PRC. Initially the practices had much to do with the danwei (simplified Chinese: 单位; traditional Chinese: 單位; pinyin: dān wèi) (literally, "unit") system, an outgrowth of communist wartime organs.[10] In the PRC the reforms of Deng Xiaoping were much criticized for making corruption the price of economic development. Corruption during Mao's reign also existed, however.[11]

Emergence of the private sector inside the state economy in post-Mao China has tempted CPC members to misuse their power in government posts; the powerful economic levers in the hands of the elite has propelled the sons of some party officials to the most profitable positions. For this, the CPC has been called the "princelings' party" (Chinese: 太子党; pinyin: taizidang), a reference to nepotistic corruption in some periods of Imperial China. The relatives of several prominent political leaders are reported to have generated large personal wealth in business, including relatives of former Premier Wen Jiabao,[12] Current CPC general secretary Xi Jinping,[13] and former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai.[14] Attacking corruption in the Party was one of the forces behind the Tiananmen protests of 1989.[15]

The politically unchallenged regime in China creates opportunities for cadres to exploit and control the rapid growth of economic opportunities; and while incentives to corruption grow, effective countervailing forces are absent.[16]

Both structural and non-structural corruption has been prevalent in China. Non-structural corruption exists around the world, and refers to all activities that can be clearly defined as "illegal" or "criminal," mainly including different forms of graft: embezzlement, extortion, bribery etc. Structural corruption arises from particular economic and political structures; this form is difficult to root out without a change of the broader system.[10]

Weak state institutions are blamed for worsening corruption in reform-era China. New Left scholars on China criticise the government for apparent "blind faith" in the market, and especially for its erosion of authority and loss of control of local agencies and agents since 1992. Others also see strong links between institutional decline and rising corruption.[17] Corruption in China results from the Party-State's inability to maintain a disciplined and effective administrative corps, according to Lü Xiaobo, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College. The Chinese reform-era state has also been an enabling factor, since state agencies have been granted regulatory power without institutional constraints, allowing them to tap into new opportunities to seek profits from the rapid growth in businesses and the economy. This takes place at both the departmental and individual level.[18] Corruption here is part of the dilemma faced by any reforming socialist state, where the state needs to play an active role in creating and regulating markets, while at the same time its own intervention places extra burdens on administrative budgets. Instead of being able to reduce the size of its bureaucratic machinery (and therefore opportunities for corruption), it is instead pressed to expand further. Officials then cash in on the regulatory power by "seeking rents."[19][20]

In 2010, in a rare move due to its perceived impact on stability, Li Jinhua, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (NCCPPCC) and former long-serving auditor general of the National Audit Office, fired a warning shot in the People's Daily, calling for better legal structures and greater supervision over the business dealings of officials and their children. He said the rapidly growing wealth of Communist officials’ children and family members "is what the public is most dissatisfied about".[15]

According to a January, 2014 investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists more than a dozen family members of China's top political and military leaders are linked to offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands. The report shows that the brother-in-law of China's current Paramount leader, Xi Jinping and the son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are amongst those making use of offshore financial havens to avoid tax and transfer money overseas.[21] [22] The Golden Shield Project has blocked foreign news sites that have reported on the scandal.[23]

Among the targets of the anti-corruption campaign since 2012 are Yao Gang, Vice-Chairman at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), China’s top security regulator.[24][25] He was investigated by the Communist Party of China's anti-graft agency in November 2015, after a stock market rout rocked global markets.[26]

Public perceptions

Opinion surveys of Party officials and Chinese citizens over recent years set identify corruption as one of the public's top concerns. Every year researchers at the Central Party School, the CPC organ that trains senior and midlevel officials, survey over 100 officials at the school. Between 1999 and 2004 respondents ranked corruption as either the most serious or second most serious social problem.[6] Similarly, in late 2006 the State Council’s Development Research Center asked 4,586 business executives (87 percent in nonstate firms) to rate their local officials in terms of integrity. Almost one-quarter said that their local officials were “bad”; 12 percent said they were “very bad.”[6]

In a commercial environment, corruption may be prevalent because many employees are not loyal to their employers, seeing themselves as "free-agent entrepreneurs" first and foremost.[27] They use their employers as a way to make money, both for themselves and for their "guanxi social-circle network." The imperative of maintaining this social circle of benefits is seen as a primary goal for many involved in corruption.[27]

Official corruptions are among the populace's greatest gripes against the regime. One folk saying vividly illustrates how the public sees the issue, according to Yan Sun: "If the Party executes every official for corruption, it will overdo a little; but if the Party executes every other official for corruption, it cannot go wrong."[2] In contemporary China, bribe taking has become so entrenched that one party secretary in a poor county received repeated death threats for rejecting over 600,000 Renminbi in bribes during his tenure. In 1994, in another area officially designated "impoverished," a delegation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization arrived for a conference on development, but upon seeing rows of imported luxury cars outside the conference site asked the local officials "Are you really poor?"[2] A rare online opinion poll in 2010 by the People’s Daily found that 91% of respondents believe all rich families in China have political backgrounds.[15]

The high corruption rates in China has been blamed by many as a result of the political system in which public service officials are not elected by the general public.


Broadly defined, three types of corruption are common in China: graft, rent-seeking, and prebendalism.[28]

Graft is the most common and refers to bribery, illicit kickbacks, embezzlement, and theft of public funds. Graft involves something of value given to, and accepted by, public officials for dishonest or illegal purposes. It includes officials spending fraudulently or using public funds for their own benefit.[28]

Rent-seeking refers to all forms of corrupt behaviour by people with monopolistic power. Public officials, through granting a license or monopoly to their clients, get "rents"—additional earnings as a result of a restricted market. Rent-seeking happens when officials grant rents to those in their favor.[28] This is akin to cronyism. In the Chinese case, public officials are both rent-generators and rent-seekers, both making rent opportunities for others and seeking such opportunities to benefit themselves. This may include profiteering by officials or official firms, extortion in the form of illicit impositions, fees, and other charges.[28]

Prebendalism refers to when incumbents of public office get privileges and perquisites through that office.[28] Controlling an office entitles the holder to rents or payments for real or fake activities, and organizations are turned from places of work into "resource banks" where individuals and groups pursue their own interests. Prebendal corruption doesn't necessarily need to be about monetary gain, but may include usurpation of official privilege, backdoor deals, clientelism, cronyism, nepotism.[28]

Corruption in the PRC has developed in two major ways. In the first mode, corruption is in the form of ostensibly legal official expenditure, but is actually wasteful and directed toward private benefits. For example, the increasing number of local governments building massive administrative office buildings that resemble luxurious mansions.[9] At the same time, many corrupt local officials have turned their jurisdictions into virtual “mafia states,” where they collude with criminal elements and unsavory businessmen in illegal activities.[9]

While the state and its bureaucrats are major players in the reform-era economy, new interests and concentrations of economic power have been created, without legitimate channels between administrators and entrepreneurs.[16] A lack of regulation and supervision has meant these roles are not clearly demarcated (Lü Xiaobo in his text titles one section "From Apparatchiks to Entrepreneurchiks").[29] Illicit guandao enterprises formed by networks of bureaucrats and entrepreneurs are allowed to grow, operating behind a facade of a government agency or state-owned enterprise, in a realm neither fully public nor private.[16] More recently, Ben Hillman has shown how official corruption is facilitated by intrastate patronage networks. According to Hillman, patronage networks 'grease the wheels' of a dysfunctional bureaucracy while simultaneously extracting spoils for the private benefit of their members. Patronage networks also protect transgressors from intrusion by the Party-state's disciplinary agencies. Hillman's study of patronage networks helps to explain how corruption and economic development have been able to coexist in China.[30]

The PLA has also become a major economic player, and participant in large- and small-scale corruption at the same time. Inconsistent tax policy, and a politicised and poorly organised banking system, create ample opportunities for favouritism, kickbacks, and "outright theft," according to Michael Johnston, Professor of Political Science at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.[16]

Corruption has also taken the form of collusion between CPC officials and criminal gangs. Often hidden inside legitimate businesses, gangs had infiltrated public offices and worked closely with the police.[31] The Telegraph quoted an employee of a state company saying: "In fact, the police stations in Chongqing were actually the centre of the prostitution, gambling and drugs rackets. They would detain gangsters from time to time, and sometimes send them to prison, but the gangsters described it as going away for a holiday. The police and the mafia were buddies." In some cases, innocents were hacked to death and dismembered by roaming gangs whose presence was allowed by regime officials, according to the Telegraph.[31]


China's housing boom, and the shift of central government policy towards social housing, are providing officials more ways to siphon off properties for personal gain. The Financial Times cites a number of public scandals involving local officials in 2010: for example, in province, eastern China, a complex of 3,500 apartments designated as social housing in Rizhao, Shandong, was sold to local officials at prices 30-50 per cent below market values. It said in Meixian, Shaanxi, around 80 per cent of the city’s first social housing development, called Urban Beautiful Scenery, went to local officials. In Xinzhou, Shanxi, a new complex of 1,578 apartments on the local government’s list of designated social housing was almost entirely reserved for local officials, many were 'flipped' for tidy profits even before construction was completed. Jones Lang LaSalle said that transparency about the plans for affordable housing was severely lacking.[32]


Whether the effects of corruption in China are solely positive or negative is a subject of hot debate. Corruption favors the most connected and unscrupulous, rather than the efficient, and also creates entry barriers in the market for those without such connections. Favors are sought for inefficient subsidies, monopoly benefits, or regulatory oversight, rather than productive activity.[33] Bribes also lead to a misdirection of resources into wasteful or poor-quality projects. Further, since corrupt payments are usually done in secrecy, they are more likely to be used in the same way, driving the proceeds of illegal transactions into foreign bank accounts. Such capital flight costs national growth.[33] Centralised corruption also carries with it the same defects, according to Yan. Rent seeking, for example, is costly to growth because it prevents innovation. Rent seeking activities are also self-sustaining, since such activity makes it seem more attractive compared to productive activity. Corruption is never a better option to honest public policy, Yan Sun argues, and it distorts and retards development.[34]

Others, including local officials, play down the negative impacts of corruption, and local cadres frown on anticorruption efforts for three reasons: a preoccupation with rooting out corruption may lead to cautiousness about new practices; corruption may act as a "lubricant" to "loosen up" the bureaucracy and facilitate commercial exchanges; and thirdly, corruption is a necessary trade-off and inevitable part of the process of reform and opening up.[35] They argue that the destructiveness of corruption in the Chinese context helps transfer or reallocate power from officials, perhaps even enabling the rise of a "new system" and acting as a driving force for reform.[36]

Nevertheless, the deleterious effects of corruption were documented in detail in Minxin Pei's report. The amount of money stolen through corruption scandals has risen exponentially since the 1980s, and corruption in China is now more concentrated in the sectors the state is heavily involved with.[6] These include infrastructure projects, real estate, government procurement, and financial services. The lack of a competitive political process means these are high-risk areas for fraud, theft, and bribery; Pei estimates the cost of corruption could be up to $86 billion per year.[6]

Corruption in China also harms Western business interests,[37] in particular foreign investors. They risk human rights, environmental, and financial liabilities, at the same time squaring off against rivals who engage in illegal practices to win business.[6]

Long term, corruption has potentially "explosive consequences," including widening income inequalities within cities and between city and countryside, and creating a new, highly visible class of "socialist millionaires," which further fuels resentment from the citizenry.[16]

Ordinary Chinese are many times, the victims in official corruption, as in the case of Hewan village in Jiangsu province, where 200 thugs were hired to attack local farmers and force them off their land so Party bosses could build a petrochemical plant. Sun Xiaojun, the party chief of Hewan village, was later arrested. One farmer died.[38] Officials themselves are increasingly victims of official corruption when they target each other out of jealousy, hunger for promotion: there have been high-profile cases of mainland bureaucrats employing hit men or launching acid attacks on rivals. In August 2009, a former director of the Communications Bureau in Hegang, Heilongjiang, who hired hitmen to kill his successor, supposedly because of the latter's ingratitude, was given the death penalty.[39]


The CPC has tried a variety of anti-corruption measures, constructing a variety of laws and agencies in an attempt to stamp out corruption, but almost none have been proven to be even mildly effective.

In 2004, the CPC devised strict regulations on officials assuming posts in business and enterprise. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Central Organization Department issued a joint circular instructing Party committees, governments and related departments at all levels not to give approval for Party and government officials to take up concurrent posts in enterprises.[40] Law 395 related to the illicit enrichment of public officials was also enacted.

In 2007 Chinese authorities established a National Corruption Prevention Bureau, focused primarily on gathering information and intra-agency coordination. Unlike the Ministry of Supervision, Procuratorate, or CCDI, the NCPB was focused on "implementing preventive measures, monitoring the transfer of assets across organizations, facilitating and promoting information sharing between agencies, and policing corrupt practices within the nongovernmental sphere, including private enterprises, social organizations and NGOs."[41] The lack of independence of the NCPB however meant that its impact on actual corruption was limited.

The Anti-Unfair Competition Law prohibits commercial bribery punishable by economic and administrative sanctions. It is prohibited to give or receive bribes in the course of selling or purchasing goods. In case of misconduct, companies are fined in between 10.000 RMB and 200.000 RMB The Criminal Law of China prohibits giving and receiving property to obtain an undue benefit, with penalties including fines, confiscation of property, imprisonment or death. Such measures are largely ineffective, however, due to the insufficient enforcement of the relevant laws.[9] Further, because the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection largely operates in secrecy, it is unclear to researchers how allegedly corrupt officials are disciplined and punished. The odds for a corrupt official to end up in prison are less than three percent, making corruption a high-return, low risk activity. This leniency of punishment has been one of the main reasons corruption is such a serious problem in China.[9]

While corruption has grown in scope and complexity, anti-corruption policies, on the other hand, have not changed much.[16] Communist-style mass campaigns with anti-corruption slogans, moral exhortations, and prominently displayed miscreants, are still a key part of official policy, much as they were in the 1950s.[16]

In 2009, according to internal Party reports, there were 106,000 officials found guilty of corruption, an increase of 2.5 percent on the previous year. The number of officials caught embezzling more than one million RMB (US$146,000) went up by 19 percent over the year. With no independent oversight like NGOs or free media, corruption has flourished.[42]

These efforts are punctuated by an occasional harsh prison term for major offenders, or even executions. But rules and values for business and bureaucratic conduct are in flux, sometimes contradictory, and “deeply politicized.”[16] In many countries systematic anti-corruption measures include independent trade and professional associations, which help limit corruption by promulgating codes of ethics and imposing quick penalties, watchdog groups like NGOs, and a free media. In China, these measures do not exist as a result of the CPC’s means of rule.[16]

Thus, while CPC disciplinary organs and prosecutorial agencies produce impressive statistics on corruption complaints received from the public, few citizens or observers believe corruption is being systematically addressed.[16]

There are also limits to how far anti-corruption measures will go. For example, when Hu Jintao's son was implicated in a corruption investigation in Namibia, Chinese Internet portals and Party-controlled media were ordered not to report on it.[43]

At the same time, local leaders engage in "corruption protectionism," as coined by the head of the Hunan provincial Party Discipline Inspection Commission; apparatchiks thwart corruption investigations against the staff of their own agencies, allowing them to escape punishment. In some cases this has impelled high-ranking officials to form special investigative groups with approval from the central government to avoid local resistance and enforce cooperation.[44] However, since in China vertical and horizontal leadership structures often run at odds with one another, CPC anti-corruption agencies find it hard to investigate graft at the lower levels. The goal of effectively controlling corruption thus remains elusive to the ruling Party, and only a propaganda tool to mislead the Chinese public on its false promises.[44]

Political incentives for cracking down

Prominent anti-corruption cases in China are often an outgrowth of factional struggles for power in the CPC, as opponents use the "war of corruption" as a weapon against rivals in the Party or corporate world.[43][45] Often, too, the central leadership's goal in cracking down on corruption is to send a message to those who step over some "unknown acceptable level of graft" or too obviously flaunt its benefits. Another reason is to show an angry public that the Party is doing something about the problem.[43]

In many such cases, the origins of anti-corruption measures are a mystery. When Chen Liangyu was ousted, analysts said it was because he lost a power struggle with leaders in Beijing. Chen was Shanghai's party secretary and member of the powerful Politburo.[43] In 2010, a re-release of the Communist Party of China 52 code of ethics was published.



Prominent individuals implicated in corruption in China include: Wang Shouxin, Yang Bin, Chen Liangyu, Qiu Xiaohua (the nation's chief statistician, who was fired and arrested in connection with a pension-fund scandal),[46] Zheng Xiaoyu,[46] Lai Changxing,[46] Lan Fu, Xiao Zuoxin, Ye Zheyun, Chen Xitong, Tian Fengshan, Zhu Junyi, Zhang Shuguang (a railways official, managed to steal $2.8 billion and move it overseas[47]).


Authors who have written about corruption in China include: Liu Binyan, Robert Chua, Wang Yao, Li Zhi, Lü Gengsong, Xi Jinping, Jiang Weiping, Gong Ting.


The strict controls placed on the media by the Chinese government limit the discovery and reporting of corruption in China. Nevertheless, there have been cases of whistleblowers publicising corruption in China, such as Guo Wengui.[48]

See Media of the People's Republic of China for a discussion on the media in China, including topics such as censorship and controls.

See also

Anti-corruption organizations
International corruption index



  1. ^ Lü 2000, p. 229.
  2. ^ a b c d e Yan 2004, p. 2
  3. ^ Teresa Welsh (June 11, 2015). "China's Corruption Crackdown: Progress or Politics?". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  4. ^ "Corruption Perception Index 2017".
  5. ^ Lü 2000, p.10
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Minxin Pei, Corruption Threatens China's Future, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Policy Brief No. 55, October 2007.
  7. ^ Murong Xuecun (May 8, 2012). "No Roads Are Straight Here" (Opinion). The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  8. ^ The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection. Columbia University Press. September 2017. ISBN 9780231545648.
  9. ^ a b c d e Minxin Pei, Daniel Kaufmann, Corruption in China: How Bad is It?, November 20, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Lü 2000, p. 236
  11. ^ Lü 2000, p. 235: "It is true that corruption by cadres existed in the Maoist era."
  12. ^ David Barboza, "Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader", The New York Times, 25 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Xi Jinping Millionaire Relations Reveal Fortunes of Elite". Bloomberg. 29 June 2012.
  14. ^ Michael Forsythe. "Bo Xilai Clan Links Included Citigroup Hiring of Elder Son", Bloomberg, 23 April 2012
  15. ^ a b c Anderlini, Jamil (12 March 2010). "Chinese officials’ children in corruption claim", Financial Times
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Michael Johnston, "Corruption in China: Old Ways, New Realities and a Troubled Future", United Nations Public Administration Network. Retrieved January 29, 2010
  17. ^ Yan 2004, p.8
  18. ^ Lü 2000, p. 252
  19. ^ Lü 2000, p. 254
  20. ^ Hillman, Ben (2010). "Factions and Spoils: Examining Local State Behaviour in China". The China Journal. 62: 1–18. doi:10.1086/tcj.64.20749244.
  21. ^ Ball, James; et al. (January 21, 2014). "China's princelings storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven". The Guardian. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  22. ^ Walker Guevara, Marina; Ryle, Gerard; Olesen, Alexa (January 21, 2014). "Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China's Elite". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  23. ^ Branigan, Tania; Ball, James (23 January 2014). "China blocks foreign news sites that revealed elite's offshore holdings". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Top China Market Regulator Yao Gang Arrested In Graft Probe". Brendan Byrne. 2015-11-13.
  25. ^ Cai Xiao (2014-05-19). "Nation developing and opening up its securities industry". Chinadaily.
  26. ^ "China investigates securities regulator's deputy head Yao Gang". 2015-11-13.
  27. ^ a b Shaun Rein, "How to Deal with Corruption in China", Forbes, July 10, 2009
  28. ^ a b c d e f Lü 2000, p.14
  29. ^ Lv 2000, p. 242
  30. ^ Hillman, Ben. Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-state Resilience in Rural China Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine Stanford University Press, 2014.
  31. ^ a b Malcolm Moore, "China corruption trial exposes capital of graft", The Daily Telegraph, October 17, 2009
  32. ^ Dyer, Geoff (18 June 2010). "Housing boom fuels corruption in China"
  33. ^ a b Yan 2004, p. 12
  34. ^ Yan 2004, p. 11
  35. ^ Yan 2004, p. 18
  36. ^ Yan 2004, p. 19
  37. ^ Global Times Archived from the original on 2010-05-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ AsiaNews/Agencies, "Corruption in China: Communist official and Supreme Court justice imprisoned,", January 19, 2010
  39. ^ Wang Xiangwei (28 Jun 2010). CHINA BRIEFING: "More officials trying to get away with murder", South China Morning Post
  40. ^ Transparency International, "Chinese National Integrity System Study 2006", December 7, 2006 Archived December 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Becker, Jeffrey (2008-10-01). "Tackling Corruption at its Source: The National Corruption Prevention Bureau". Journal of Chinese Political Science. 13 (3): 287–303. doi:10.1007/s11366-008-9028-4. ISSN 1080-6954.
  42. ^ Quentin Sommerville, "Corruption up among China government officials", BBC, January 9, 2009
  43. ^ a b c d David Barboza, "Politics Permeates Anti-Corruption Drive in China", The New York Times, September 3, 2009.
  44. ^ a b Lü 2000, p. 227
  45. ^ Wang, Peng (2013). "The rise of the Red Mafia in China: a case study of organised crime and corruption in Chongqing". Trends in Organized Crime. 16 (1): 49–73. doi:10.1007/s12117-012-9179-8.
  46. ^ a b c Kent Ewing (1 March 2007). "Resentment builds against China's wealthy", Asia Times Online.
  47. ^ A Body, a Scandal and China| By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF. The New York Times. April 21, 2012
  48. ^ Michael Forsythe and Alexandra Stevenson (May 30, 2017). "The Billionaire Gadfly in Exile Who Stared Down Beijing". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2017. The biggest political story in China this year isn’t in Beijing. It isn’t even in China. It’s centered at a $68 million apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan.


  • Zhang, Yingyu (2017). The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection. Columbia University Press.
  • Lü, Xiaobo (2000). Cadres and Corruption. Stanford University Press.
  • Hillman, Ben (2014). Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-state resilience in Rural China. Stanford University Press.
  • Yan, Sun (2004). Corruption and Market in Contemporary China. Cornell University Press.
  • Manion, Melanie (2004). Corruption by Design. Harvard University Press.
  • Hutton, Will (2007). The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century. Little, Brown.
  • Andrew Wedeman: Double Paradox. Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York State, USA 2012.
  • Wang, Peng (2013). "The rise of the Red Mafia in China: a case study of organised crime and corruption in Chongqing". Trends in Organized Crime. 16 (1): 49–73. doi:10.1007/s12117-012-9179-8.
  • Wang, Peng (2017). The Chinese Mafia: Organized Crime, Corruption, and Extra-Legal Protection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

External links

Always On The Road

Always On The Road (Chinese: 永远在路上; pinyin: Yǒngyuǎn Zài Lùshàng), sometimes also translated as Never Ending Anti-Corruption Struggle, is an eight part television miniseries produced jointly by the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and China Central Television (CCTV). Released after the CCP's 18th National Congress, the program's primary focus is the CCP's crackdown under Xi Jinping against corruption in China by showcasing its prosecution of high level corrupt officials.The program ran for one season, broadcast between 17 October 2016 and 25 October 2016 at 21:30 on CCTV-1. The entire show was immediately available online as it aired for free on the CCDI's official website, as well as on Youku and YouTube, where it was uploaded by the CCTV's official account.

Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center

The Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center of Tsinghua University was established in November 2000. It is China's first university-based institute devoted to anti-corruption research.

The center has formed a multidisciplinary research team and it also benefits from its advisors, including Professor Susan Rose-Ackerman of Yale University.

The Center aims to assist China's ongoing anti-corruption campaign with high quality research on corruption control, corruption prevention and good governance.

Most of the Center's current research projects concentrate on how China can prevent various types of corruption from happening through institutional reforms. The center has successfully carried out a number of important research projects on topics such as China's corruption prevention strategies, corruption prevention strategies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, etc.

The Center aspires to become an important think tank on anti-corruption policies both in China and worldwide.

Anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping

A far-reaching campaign against corruption began in China following the conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012. The campaign, carried out under the aegis of Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (paramount leader), was the largest organized anti-graft effort in the history of Communist rule in China.

Upon taking office, Xi vowed to crack down on "tigers and flies", that is, high-level officials and local civil servants alike. Most of the officials investigated were removed from office and faced accusations of bribery and abuse of power, although the range of alleged abuses varied widely. The campaign 'netted' over 120 high-ranking officials, including about a dozen high-ranking military officers, several senior executives of state-owned companies, and five national leaders (list). More than 100,000 people have been indicted for corruption. The campaign is part of a much wider drive to clean up malfeasance within party ranks and shore up party unity. It has become an emblematic feature of Xi Jinping's political brand.

Executed largely under the direction of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and its Secretary from 2012 to 2017 Wang Qishan along with corresponding military and judicial organs, the campaign was notable in implicating both incumbent and former national-level leaders, including former Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) member Zhou Yongkang and former military leaders Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Such investigations broke the unspoken rule regarding 'PSC criminal immunity' (Chinese: 刑不上常委) that has been the norm since the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Audit storm

Audit storm (Chinese: 审计风暴) was a phrase that Chinese media coined to describe the auditing campaigns initiated by the National Audit Office of China.In 2003, Auditor General Li Jinhua presented the annual audit report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. He openly disclosed the severe irregularities committed by many ministries and other government agencies. This report was posted to the official website of the NAO. It was the first time that the audit report was published to the public. This received significant public attention and was labelled as "audit storm".

In June 2004, Li Jinhua again submitted bold auditing report to the NPC's Standing Committee and disclosed many major problems in government. Nearly 600 people were punished for being involved in irregularities. The term of "audit storm" was coined in 2003 for the NAO's audit report of that year. Later, Auditor General Li Jinhua retroactively named the 1999 audit report as the first audit storm.

In July 2004, audit storm was elected as one of the top ten popular terms used in Chinese newspapers in spring and summer 2004.

Forced evictions in China

Forced eviction in the People's Republic of China refers to the practice of involuntary land requisitions from the citizenry, typically in order to make room for development projects. In many instances, government authorities working in collusion with private developers seize land from villagers, often with little to no compensation. Forced evictions are particularly common in rural areas, and are a major source of unrest and public protest. By some estimates, up to 65 percent of the 180,000 annual "mass incidents" in China stem from grievances over forced evictions. Citizens who resist or protest the evictions have reportedly been subjected to harassment, beatings, or detention.The rate of forced evictions has grown significantly since the 1990s, as city and county-level governments have increasingly come to rely on land sales as an important source of revenue. In 2011, the Financial Times reported that 40 percent of local government revenue comes from land sales. Guan Qingyou, a professor at Tsinghua University, estimated that land sales accounted for 74 percent of local government income in 2010.

In the Name of the People (2017)

In the Name of the People (Chinese: 人民的名义; pinyin: Rénmín de míngyì) is a 2017 Chinese TV drama series based on the web novel of the same name by Zhou Meisen. Its plot revolves around a prosecutor's efforts to unearth corruption in a present-day fictional Chinese city. It has drawn large audiences in China, where its release coincides with General Secretary Xi Jinping's leadership's anti-corruption campaign. It is the first broadcast political drama featuring high-level government corruption in China since 2004. The production received significant government funding from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the highest agency responsible for both investigation and prosecution in the People's Republic of China. The intervention from censors was much lighter due to the support of the authorities. The series is considered by some western observers as the Chinese version of House of Cards.The program's stars include Lu Yi as detective Hou Liangping, Xu Yajun as his antagonist Qi Tongwei, and Zhang Fengyi as Sha Ruijin, the provincial Party Committee Secretary. The series is based on a book by author Zhou Meisen, and was adapted for television by Zhou and his wife Sun Xinyue. It was primarily filmed in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

National Bureau of Corruption Prevention

The National Bureau of Corruption Prevention (Chinese: 国家预防腐败局) was an agency of the People's Republic of China under the direct administration of the State Council. It was established in 2007 with the objective of improving government transparency, developing and improving the mechanisms through which corruption was combatted, and coordinating anti-corruption efforts. The bureau also seeks cooperation on corruption prevention at the multilateral level.Upon its inauguration, the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention established a website to publicize events and post corruption-related news. The website also provides citizens with a forum to directly submit complaints of corruption and opinions on the government's work. Within hours of its launch, the site crashed under the volume of complaints.The Bureau was a distinct entity from the Communist Party's Central Discipline Inspection Commission, which is charged with investigating corruption and disciplinary infractions within party ranks. The CCDI operates independent of the government (i.e., the State Council), and its jurisdiction is limited to party members. Moreover, the CCDI may initiate investigations for infractions not necessarily related to corruption nor constituting a criminal offense, such as having a "lavish lifestyle" unbecoming of a Communist Party member, or even extramarital relationships.

On 13 March 2018 the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention was merged into National Supervisory Commission.

National Supervisory Commission

National Supervisory Commission of the People's Republic of China is the highest anti-corruption agency of the People's Republic of China, at the same administrative ranking as Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate. Its operations are merged with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China. The National Supervision Commission was formed at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in 2018. The Commission includes the director, deputy director, and ordinary members and the director is appointed by the National People's Congress.

New Century Global Center

New Century Global Center (Chinese: 新世纪环球中心; pinyin: xīnshìjì huánqiú zhōngxīn) is a multipurpose building in the Tianfu New Area of Chengdu, China, and is the world's largest building in terms of floor area. It is served by Line 1 of the Chengdu Metro.

Officials implicated by the anti-corruption campaign in China (2012–2017)

Over one hundred officials of provincial-ministerial level and above have been implicated by the anti-corruption campaign in China, which began after the 18th Party Congress in 2012. The number of officials implicated below the provincial level are much higher. The tables on this list includes only officials for which a case has been initiated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Operation Fox Hunt

Operation Fox Hunt is a Chinese covert global anti-corruption operation which has led to the arrest of over 40 of its 100 most wanted globally.

Shanghai pension scandal

The Shanghai pension scandal was a corruption case in Shanghai, China.

Ultimately, former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu was implicated in the scandal and removed from office. Other high-ranking officials were also implicated such as Zhu Junyi, Qin Yu, Yu Zhifei, and Chen Chaoxian. Vice-Premier Huang Ju and his wife Yu Huiwen were also believed to be involved, but were never officially exposed as being part of the scandal.

Sichuan schools corruption scandal

After the May 12, 2008, earthquake in the Chinese province of Sichuan, there was a series of allegations of corruption against officials involved in the construction of schools in regions affected by the quake. It gained momentum in May and June 2008, and the allegations culminated in protests from grieving parents of children who died in the earthquake as a result of the collapse of various schools in the quake zone.

The scandal eventually became a focal point of reporting on the earthquake rescue efforts, with Chinese civil engineers, bloggers, activists, and foreign media bringing attention to the allegations. Various discussions reports alleged that local government officials and construction companies were negligent in the construction of schools, and that they ignored civil engineering standards, saved materials and took shortcuts while pocketing the difference.

Despite initial openness to independent reporting and foreign media, the Chinese government attempted to downplay the issue and suppress criticism. Additionally, local government attempted to entice grieving parents into monetary compensation in exchange for their silence. While Chinese authorities were initially praised by international media for its rapid and effective response to the earthquake, the school construction scandal severely undermined the initial positive reactions, particularly among Western media. Postings about the scandal flooded Chinese online portals and discussion boards, and popularized the phrase "tofu-dreg schoolhouses" (Chinese:豆腐渣校舍). The internet activism resulted in a pledge by the federal government to conduct investigations into the allegations, but it was ostensibly not followed up with any substantial action.

Tangshan protest

The Tangshan protest (Chinese: 唐山反政府) occurred in 2004 after more than 11,000 farmers in Hebei Province, China signed a petition calling for the removal of Communist Party officials who were allegedly involved in corruption. The protest led to a crackdown on rights activists and further repression of the farmers.

Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns

The Three-anti Campaign (1951) and Five-anti Campaign (1952) (Chinese: 三反五反; pinyin: sān fǎn wǔ fǎn) were reform movements originally issued by Mao Zedong a few years after the founding of the People's Republic of China in an effort to rid Chinese cities of corruption and enemies of the state. The result turned into a series of campaigns that consolidated Mao's power base by targeting political opponents and capitalists, especially wealthy capitalists.

Wukan protests

The Wukan protests, also known as the Siege of Wukan, was an anti-corruption protest that began in September 2011, and escalated in December 2011 with the expulsion of officials by villagers, the siege of the town by police, and subsequent détente in the southern Chinese village of Wukan (pop. 12,000). The villagers rose up again in June 2016, but were again suppressed. The most recent rounds of clashes were in September, 2016, when the former village leader Lin Zulian was sentenced to jail. The clashes were suppressed.

The protests began on 21–23 September 2011 after officials sold land to real estate developers without properly compensating the villagers. Several hundred to several thousand people protested in front of and then attacked a government building, a police station and an industrial park. Protesters held signs saying "give us back our farmland" and "let us continue farming." Rumors that the police had killed a child further inflamed the protesters and provoked rioting. Residents of Wukan had previously petitioned the national government in 2009 and 2010 over the land disputes. In an apparent attempt to ease tensions, authorities allowed villagers to select 13 representatives to engage in negotiations.

Security agents abducted five of the representatives and took them into custody in early December. The protests strengthened after one of the village representatives, Xue Jinbo, died in police custody in suspicious circumstances. The villagers forced the entire local government, Communist Party leadership and police out of the village. As of 14 December 2011, a thousand police laid siege to the village, preventing food and goods from entering the village. Government authorities set up internet censorship against information about Wukan, Lufeng and Shanwei.Wukan is a village that had often been described as being especially harmonious. International newspapers described the December uprising as being exceptional compared to other "mass incidents" in the People's Republic of China which numbered approximately 180,000 in 2010.The village representatives and provincial officials reached a peaceful agreement, satisfying the villagers' immediate requests. Local Communist Party secretary of Shanwei City said that the authority of the city has been "overridden" by provincial intervention.

Zhan Jun

Zhan Jun (Chinese: 占俊; pinyin: Zhàn Jùn) is a Chinese major general in the People's Liberation Army (PLA). He was investigated by the PLA's anti-graft agency in December 2014. His case was handed over to military prosecutors in March 2015. He once served as head of the logistic department of Hubei Military District and deputy commander of Hubei Military District.

Zhang Daixin

Zhang Daixin is a general in the People's Liberation Army of China. Zhang holds the rank of major general in the PLA. He was investigated by the PLA's anti-graft agency in December 2014. Zhang served as Deputy Commander of Heilongjiang Military District from 2012 to 2014, previously he was the director of the Logistics Department of the 16th Army.

Zhang Shengmin

Zhang Shengmin (Chinese: 张升民; born February 1958) is a general of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Rocket Force. He is a member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Secretary of the CMC Commission for Discipline Inspection. He is also a Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the top anti-corruption agency of China.

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