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

William Ide
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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid