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Curbing corruption needs more than a crackdown

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-20 0:30:05

General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping highlighted efforts to combat corruption in his speech delivered at the first group lecture to the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee on November 17.  Xi said that corruption cases within the Party in recent years have had a very bad influence, sending a strong warning that growing corruption would lead to the ruin of the Party and the nation.

Between the report to the 18th Party congress and Xi's two recent speeches, the repeated emphasis on fighting corruption is inspirational to the Party and all of society. Fighting corruption is an urgent task for modern China. Public demands to tackle the problem are strong. China needs to make progress in fighting corruption to ease this dissatisfaction.

However, this cannot be achieved merely through simply implementing a policy. Now, the severest corruption cases in China are mostly those concerning officials. China's traditional civil culture as well as various institutional loopholes contribute to the problem.

If there are some repetitive patterns of corruption, we should reflect on this from both cultural and institutional perspectives. We should demand officials improve their individual moral character while also reforming their working environment.

Fighting against corruption requires a strong will. We can see the resolution of the central government from Xi's two recent speeches. This resolution comes from the moral responsibility resting on the shoulders of the leadership as well as their sober understanding of domestic and external challenges.

Promoting efforts to combat corruption, we must improve supervision. Making the use of power more transparent is the solution. We must also guard against "absolute power" and mobilize public supervision.

Preventing and punishing corruption is just part of the institutional framework needed to combat corruption. It's also necessary to establish a mechanism to guarantee the legal interests of officials. Clean governance in other countries and regions is supported by proper mechanisms to protect legal interests. Using high salaries to encourage clean governance is one method.

It's difficult to establish such a mechanism in China, one of the reasons is that the society doesn't understand its importance. A popular view is that there must be a powerful crackdown on corruption. There is little support for measures to raise the incomes of officials.

Some officials have undeclared "gray" income. This expanding proportion of gray income is what defines corruption. We must root out gray income and make transparent officials' legal income.  This would be a fundamental adjustment to China's system of administration, and cannot be solely achieved through the efforts of the policymakers. Society also needs to change its culture and perceptions.

Posted in: Observer