Anti-corruption vs. Economic development


The link between China's ongoing anti-corruption drive and the current economic slowdown have long been discussed by the public, with naysayers pointing out that the fight against graft has affected China's economic development.

However, those who are clear about corruption's evil nature have dismissed the opinion as "absurd" and "weird" instead, applauding the country's anti-graft campaign since Xi Jinping took office as general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in late 2012.


"Anti-corruption will not affect economic development. On the contrary, it will make the growth healthier," Xi said last week while talking with national lawmakers from Jiangxi Province at the annual parliamentary session.

Xi made the remarks in response to Jiangxi's economy maintaining rapid growth last year despite being hit hard by corruption, with Su Rong, former Jiangxi Party chief and deputy head of the country's top political advisory body, being put under criminal investigation over allegations of accepting bribes.

"Corruption is cancer for economic development, and the anti-corruption drive is to remove the cancer cell (corrupt figures)," said political advisor Li Daokui, who is head of Tsinghua University's Center for China in the World Economy.

Li said immunity should be enhanced by building a better system.

Li's view was echoed by veteran actor Pu Cunxin, who is also a national political advisor. Pu compared the country's countercorruption efforts to the fight against HIV/AIDS. As an ambassador and avid campaigner for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, he said the only vaccine for corruption was a suitable system.

"For the economy, the primary benefit of the graft fight is to ensure that government policies can be truly implemented," Li said.

Take affordable government-subsidized housing as an example, the economist said, if corruption existed in this area, beneficiaries could be members of the high-income class instead of low-income families.

Anti-corruption can help enterprises reduce operational costs and improve efficiency. Companies would spend less in maintaining relations (or "guanxi" in Chinese) with business partners and government agencies, by means of gift-giving or banquet holding, Li said, adding more energy could be shifted to research and development and product quality improvement.

"Countercorruption is like curing disease, it will bring pain. Some entrepreneurs may feel like a fish out of water, but it is a short-term price that should be paid and we have to be mentally prepared," he said.

"China's economy is becoming ever more complicated and needs an open, fair and transparent market, so we need to fight corruption first" in order to boost the quality of economic development, said Li, who is also a former member of the central bank's monetary policy committee, adding that those who only engaged in guanxi should be prevented from "going up."


Prosperity against the backdrop of a "corruption economy" -- where rampant corruption lies in both government and business sectors -- is not only artificial, it is poisonous.

How long can a nation's economic growth maintain if it is only based on official lavishness, embezzlement and abuse of power? A "corruption economy" will, without question, damage the Party and government's credibility, poison social ethos and ultimately bring economic growth to a standstill.

A "corruption economy" cannot fairly distribute the fruits of economic development among the people. On the contrary, it would cause social instability and undermine public support for the reform.

Instead of damping officials' enthusiasm, the fight against corruption, by weeding out malfeasance in officialdom, will help create an environment that encourages honest, hard work while improving administrative efficiency.

"If countercorruption measures are put into place well, the quality and speed of China's economic development will be better," said Justin Yifu Lin, a political advisor and former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank.


Source: Xinhua