Corruption's insidious influence on society

Updated: 2014-07-21 07:36

By Zhu Yuan (China Daily)

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Corruption's insidious influence on societyIf Andrew Wedeman's book Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China tries to explain why this emerging economy could grow at a double-digit rate for about three decades to become the world's second-largest despite rampant corruption, what China's new leadership has been doing since they took office more than a year ago is to root out as many corrupt elements as possible to check the rampant power abuses.

The more than a dozen vice-ministerial or above officials, including two members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, either placed under investigation or put on trial could serve as a footnote to the book to suggest how severe the corruption is within the ruling Party and government hierarchy.

But the fact they were caught in the anti-corruption net coincides with one of the conclusions Andrew Wedeman reached, namely that the anti-graft campaign may have to some extent prevented the abuse of power from spiraling out of control.

However inspiring the current momentum of the anti-graft fight is, what I believe many have ignored but will possibly stand in the way of China's social progress and healthy economic growth in the long run is what can be called a pro-favoritism mentality among the general public. What this entails is the assumption that the use of relations or nepotism is the necessary condition for getting things done.

For example, even when a graduate has landed a good job on his or her own merit there will definitely be some gossiping accusing him or her of getting the job by using relations. Some gossip may go so far as to guess that he or she may has a high-ranking and powerful father.

Yet the majority of residents do not sneer at those who succeed by the use of relations because they hate nepotism but because they feel sorry for themselves as they have no way of changing their social status as an underdog.

What is both funny and miserable is the fact that such a mentality has created enough room for fraudsters not only to make a living but also hit the jackpot. They boast they have relations powerful enough to get someone a good job or help a senior high school graduate enter a prestigious university; they just need a sum of money to lubricate the channel. There are indeed people who have been cajoled into paying a large sum of money for such an opportunity.

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