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Chinese Official Says High-Level Corruption on the Rise

  • Daniel Schearf

A Chinese official has said corruption among high-ranking Communist Party members is getting worse, as those in power exploit loopholes in China's economic reforms. The official also said corruption in general is declining, but this is a claim experts dispute.

Chinese state media Sunday quoted an official in charge of Chinese Communist Party discipline as saying cases involving high-ranking officials who take big bribes and embezzle large sums of money are increasing.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted He Yong, the deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, as saying greedy officials are exploiting "loopholes" in China's administration during the transition to a market-based economy.

But some experts say such loopholes are not the fundamental cause of China's widespread corruption.

Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong, says China's one-party system is to blame for concentrating too much power in too few hands.

"Without democratization, when power is highly concentrated within the party, there are no effective checks-and-balances mechanisms and therefore there is no way to control abuse of power, abuse of privileges, and the spread of corruption," he said.

Experts say the Chinese Communist Party does not intend to give up its monopoly on power and is instead focusing on internal discipline.

Several high-ranking officials have recently been put on trial for corruption, including China's former Minister for Land and Resources. The government says it has punished nearly 50-thousand corrupt party members in the past two years.

State media also quoted Mr. He as saying even though corruption at the highest levels is getting worse, overall corruption in China is decreasing.

Mr. Cheng disputes that claim.

"If there is an admission that corruption is getting worse at the higher levels, then it is difficult to imagine that the general corruption situation in China can improve," he said.

But Mr. He did reportedly admit that the achievements of the Chinese government's anti-corruption campaign were still far below the people's expectations.