Clear definition of corruption can help in waging war against scourge

By Pan Wei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/26 18:18:39

Many delegates talked about fighting corruption at the Communist Party of China in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting earlier this month, arguing that graft can be controlled but it would be a difficult task.

There's no controversy about the definition of corruption, a rare phenomenon in social sciences. Officials' illegal use of public power for self-gain can be defined as corruption and it's easy to curb the phenomenon - cutting off ties between public power and officials' personal interests or making some corruptive practices legal. Certain countries, for instance the US, have lowered the corruption rate by defining a form of corruption legal.

Making clear-cut definition of corruption can help fight illegal corruption. Meanwhile, to define some forms of corruption legal is nothing difficult. In this sense, fighting corruption is to some degree easy. There are precedents in countries of a divergent developmental level of putting corruption under effective control in a short span of time.

I told my students five years ago that I was hopeful about China's anti-corruption campaign, but only a few agreed with me at that time. Now China's anti-corruption achievements are universally acknowledged. Yet cutting off links between public power and private interests is not as easy as it appears.

High-level Party members must have the will and determination to fight corruption. If high-level leaders were corruptive elements themselves, they would not take the initiative or boast the resolve to combat corruption. Thus top CPC members must behave themselves so as to gain credibility, consolidate authority and promote anti-corruption measures.

Many hold back from firmly acting against corrupt elements for fear of losing ruling power or support from campaign contributors and influential party leaders. However, in the long term, for a party without credibility, it is impossible to hold power.

Corruption deserves heavy punishment. Laws and authorities are not enough to sever ties between public power and personal interests and as a result the gains that corruption has brought may sometimes outweigh the costs. To effectively combat corruption, there must be laws and regulations in place and strong enforcement to make corruption an unbearably costly thing to do.

The society should have zero tolerance for corruption, although it's a tough task. Internal supervision should be expanded to all of society so as to yield lasting results. The Party should first strengthen internal supervision and then intensify members' supervision of their superiors.

The CPC has 89 million members. It's still an arduous undertaking to educate all members to serve the people wholeheartedly and understand that corruption is a shameful betrayal of the CPC. Communist education should be strengthened in the Party.

The pursuit of higher living standards is a significant motivation for corruption. If people's economic situation has little bearing on the education, healthcare, pensions and living conditions they receive, officials would be less motivated to corrupt themselves than they are now. This is the main reason for the low corruption of northern Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Socialism is thus an effective approach in curbing corruption. China is still in the primary stage of socialism and there's still a long way to go for the country to realize societal equity.

Corruption concerns the credibility of all parties and anti-corruption endeavors are an important part of constructing a wonderful world in which all parties should strengthen communications and join hands.

The author is a professor at the School of International Studies, Peking University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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