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Stop Collusion of Officials

A new mode of collusion between corrupt government officials and business owners should be watched, urged an article in the Beijing Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

According to the National Audit Office, Feng Mingchang, a private entrepreneur in southern Guangdong Province, defrauded the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China by taking illegal loans worth billions of yuan.

What is more shocking is that local government officials were the major culprits using private enterprises as their personal automatic teller machines (ATM).

In this case involving billions of yuan, Feng, owner of Huaguang, a building material manufacturer, should not be able to escape accountability for this crime. He has been detained for interrogation and is awaiting sentencing.

But as the investigation continues, a couple of officials of the Nanhai Finance Bureau, where Feng's company Huaguang is registered, were allegedly closely involved in the case. To a certain extent, Feng was just the frontman while those officials were the primary manipulators behind the crime.

Around the time when Feng became recognized as a bright new entrepreneur and his company a new star among private enterprises, companies affiliated with Nanhai Finance Bureau had just failed in their overseas investments and were eager to fill their financial shortfall. Feng's company suddenly gained financial and political weight, which gave it an advantage in the market and enabled it to obtain many bank loans.

In a reverse off the more commonly known scenario of political power being bought off by capital, this case shows another scenario - capital being "kidnapped" by political power to serve the political power brokers.

To correct such unhealthy government-business relationships, the country has explored and adopted many measures, including reforming State-owned enterprises and separating government departments from enterprises. But capital and power will not give up any chance for collusion.

Huaguang and Feng are just one typical example but surely not the last. Such collusion should be carefully dealt with and severely attacked. The lack of public exposure makes corrupted officials safer but our national interests more vulnerable.

(China Daily July 20, 2004)

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