Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lack of civil society

It's not just corruption and authoritarian government that prevents the Chinese system from being self-correcting.

Graft in China Covers Up Toll of Coal Mines

"[W]ide-ranging cover-up[s] might seem unusual in the Internet age, but it remains disturbingly common here. From mine disasters to chemical spills, the 2003 SARS epidemic to the past year’s scandal over tainted milk powder, Chinese bureaucrats habitually hide safety lapses for fear of being held accountable by the ruling Communist Party or exposing their own illicit ties to companies involved.

"Under China’s authoritarian system, superiors reward subordinates for strict compliance with targets set from above, like reducing mine disasters. Should one occur, the incentive to hide it is often stronger than the reward for handling it well. A disaster on a bureaucrat’s watch is almost surely a blot on his career. A scandal buried quietly, under truckloads of dirt, may never be discovered.

"China’s lack of a free press, independent trade unions, citizen watchdog groups and other checks on official power makes cover-ups more possible, even though the Internet now makes it harder to suppress information completely...

"Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, argues that Beijing’s top-down approach can only do so much to make local officials more accountable.

"'We don’t have the grass-roots democracy; we don’t have independent labor unions; we don’t have checks and balances; we don’t have any system of official accountability,' he said..."

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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At 11:41 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Alan Carter wrote from the UK:

Death toll in Chinese mines is reckoned to be 4500-5000 per year? including illegal/unreported ? and the UK now imports most? of it's coal from China?? so much for UK climate change policy...
will research later,
thanks, Alan.


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