Former minister of railways Liu Zhijun was stripped of his CPC membership yesterday and his case has been transferred to the judicial department. Nationwide, the exposure of corrupt officials has constantly hit the headlines. It seems that the anti-graft campaign is an endless one.
Corruption is obviously thriving in China with limited resources to curb it. Some assume it can be rooted out if a democratic system is adopted. This is naïve thinking.
Serving the people, the political moral code for officials, has become deeply entrenched in society, but it can hardly be implemented in a market economy. Officials have repeatedly betrayed this code using the system's loopholes. In the globalization era, the clean government standard of developed countries has been acknowledged by the Chinese public, which is requesting the same standard at home.
It is impossible to eradicate corruption in any country. The question is how to control it and bring it to a level that the public can tolerate. Public servants in Singapore and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are paid high salaries. In many other countries, officials can cash in on the connections they have made during their political careers. But none of these systems can be copied in China.
Pay hikes for public servants would be censured by the Chinese media. Retired officials are banned from making money through their connections. Wealthy people rarely become politicians, and would be unwelcome anyway.
The reality is that Chinese officials only earn meager salaries. In local governments, generous benefits for government employees can be obtained through unwritten rules. The "grey income" has extended to the public sector, including hospitals and schools.
It is difficult to define the boundaries of these unwritten rules. The repeated occurrence of corruption cases has given rise to a saying that the law cannot punish the majority. But once officials start to buy into this, they are close to danger.
Public supervision needs to be enforced, so that it can drive the government's determination in its anti-corruption campaign. But the public should also be objective and realistic. They need to understand the reality that corruption cannot be completely banished from China at this time, rather than suffer in the pursuit of an unrealistic goal.
This definitely does not mean anti-corruption efforts are not important or can be postponed. In contrast, we believe corruption should be prioritized. However, corruption cannot be completely cured solely through the fight against the concept or through reforms. Development is also a key element of the cure.
Corruption derives from officials' own misbehavior and the flaws in our system. But they are not the only causes. Corruption is also a result of our current level of development.