News / Asia

    Analysts: China Corruption Crackdown Lacks Independence

    China Crackdown Limits Waste but Lacks Independencei
    X
    December 13, 2013 4:34 PM
    In the first year of his administration, Chinese President Xi Jinping's efforts to cut government waste and go after high-ranking officials have won him praise and recorded some successes, but some say much more needs to be done. VOA’s Bill Ide reports from Beijing.
    China Crackdown Limits Waste but Lacks Independence
    In the first year of his administration, Chinese President Xi Jinping has touted a high-profile effort to root out graft. His efforts to cut government waste and go after high-ranking officials have won him praise, but some say much more needs to be done.

    Over the past year, China held one of its biggest political trials in decades and in a first, broadcast the court proceedings in almost real time online.
     
    While the trial of ousted political star Bo Xilai drew international headlines, high-ranking officials at state-owned companies have also been targeted.

    Hu Xingdou, an economist at the Beijing Institute of Technology, says despite the fanfare around the anti-corruption campaign, it is not unprecedented.

    “There is not much in terms of institutional reform on how to combat corruption, and there is not much substantive difference with what they tried in the past,” he said.
     
    According to statistics released by the Supreme People’s Court Procuratorate, the number of officials under investigation this year has not significantly increased from previous years.

    But He Bing, a legal scholar at the China University of Political Science and Law, says there has been a change in the intensity of the anti-corruption campaign.

    “Over the past year, about 10- 20 officials of the vice ministerial ranking or higher have been arrested. It is an intense crackdown,” He Bing says. “One can talk about cracking down on corruption, but the key thing is that you arrest those who are corrupt.”

    Public Strutiny
     
    Officials are also facing increased public scrutiny and it is getting more difficult for officials to flaunt their wealth and misuse public funds. When a local Beijing official decided to host a massive three-day wedding for his son in October, the media pounced.
     
    Later, he was removed from office.
     
    Newspapers and television channels have also released lengthy undercover reports about the measures officials are using to skirt a ban on banquets and misuse public funds.
     
    Over the past year, restaurants that host banquets have been hit hard, with many seeing their business almost cut in half. Some have tried to continue to survive by creating more private spaces for government officials.
     
    Ministry Street
     
    On Beijing’s Yuetan Street, also known as Ministry Street because of the many government offices nearby, sellers of high-end Chinese liquor say sales have sunk this year by about 30 percent.
     
    The manager of one high-end banquet restaurant on Yuetan Street who did not want to be quoted directly says business has been so bad that he has had to switch to serving Japanese Teppanyaki, a style of cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food, and rent out the upper floor of his establishment.
     
    Such economic strains, while painful, are a good thing, says economist Hu Xingdou, because over-reliance on such government expenditures creates a false economy.
     
    Hu says China’s administrative costs are huge and that according to official statistics, 25 percent of the government’s revenues are spent on administrative expenses.
     
    “Some scholars think it is more around 35 percent, and there are those who even think it is fifty percent,” Hu says. “So half of public spending, or about half of it goes to pay government expenses.”
     
    The public seems pleased with the changes. One man surnamed Li, who works in a restaurant, says that while his business is hurting, overall the effort to cut down on waste is a good thing and it seems to be making progress in the cities.
     
    However, more focus on waste at the local level is needed, he adds.
     
    “There is so much corruption there, for example a corrupt village head in the countryside can get hundreds of thousands and even millions of Chinese yuan,” Li says.
     
    More Oversight

    One way the government is looking to crack down on corrupt local officials is by allowing more transparency of local and central government budgets. Reining in spending and having a clearer sense of how funds are spent will do more than help limit waste, says He Bing.

    “If you know how they spend money then you can not easily control the waste that is spent on banquets, but the power of officials as well,” He says. “It is the abuse of power and lack of control that leads to the misuse of funds.”

    But even with these changes, more independent supervision is still needed, says Hu Xingdou.

    “Because the government cannot initiate any political reform, it is very difficult to reform the anti-corruption system. It is very hard to have independent organs monitor the corrupt behavior [of party officials]. It is hard to have real freedom of the press, and it is also hard to have asset disclosure [laws].”
     
    For all of the scrutiny that President Xi Jinping has brought to corruption, analysts note that the government has limited public oversight by tightening restrictions on freedom of expression. New rules that carry hefty punishments for spreading information online chill public oversight. Analysts say that loosening these restrictions would allow the public to play a bigger role in keeping officials in check.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.