Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fighting corruption

In the ongoing saga of fighting corruption in China, the lack of transparency means that it's very difficult to tell whether corruption or political competition is being reduced.

How well could your students identify examples of the lack of transparency from this account?

Chinese Officials Accused of Embezzlement

"Ten central government departments, including the powerful Ministry of Finance, “misused or embezzled” more than $660 million last year, according to a report from China’s top auditor.

"The report said 88 people had been arrested, 14 officials had been referred for prosecution and an additional 104 government employees had been punished for their roles in mismanaging or embezzling government funds...

"Liu Jiayi [left], the nation’s top auditor, said in the report that a further $6 billion in government funds had been “mismanaged” last year...

"Since 1999, the national audits, dubbed the “audit storm,” have resulted in the discovery of billions of dollars worth of fraud and mismanagement...

"The national auditor rarely publishes the names of government officials involved in the fraud, or ties their actions to the country’s highest-ranking officials. And few details are revealed about what happened to money...

"Analysts say the crackdowns on corruption are aimed at bringing greater accountability to all levels of government, and at containing a problem that some consider so widespread that it could undermine support for the ruling Communist Party...

" This 'is one of the highlights of the Hu administration, that government is becoming more and more transparent and open,' said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the National School of Administration in Beijing. 'Years ago, you could never imagine such a big amount of embezzled money would be audited and then publicized.'

"Other analysts, though, say some of those ensnared in corruption investigations are targeted because of political fighting within the party, often with the losers’ crimes exposed and some officials jailed after a closed-door trial..."

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