China's economy has enjoyed robust growth in the past three decades. Double-digit increases of GDP have become the norm for the last ten years. Nevertheless, the country's economic engine has not always gone according to plan. Rampant corruption has plagued the nation, which places China's economic miracle at risk.
Accordingly, Chinese government officials are making greater efforts to stem the tide of corruption, but will Beijing succeed? This is a question posed by many skeptics. However, China must tackle corruption if it seeks to garner more respect from the global business community.
China's economic growth has been phenomenal and deserving of rightful recognition. If the country wishes to gain status as a first-world economy, it must fight against corruption. The country could then attract more foreign direct investments, open up for more trade and boost the values of stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Yet, combating corruption would be difficult for an obvious reason. There's no such thing as a crime-free society and corruption remains an inevitable fact of life. The character of a criminal predisposes them to engage in nefarious deeds despite the surrounding circumstances.
Consequently, those who participate in corruption go to great lengths to grab ill-gotten gains in the hopes of avoiding punishment. Apparently, China's government has become more aware of this aspect to human nature. Hence, they are strengthening its investigative body to deal with corruption.
Recently, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection invited a group of foreign-born reporters from international media outlets to a seminar about anti-corruption measures in Jiangsu Province. Journalists from the press in attendance hailed from the Asahi Shimbun of Japan, Joong Ang Daily of South Korea, Singapore's Straits Times, Times of India and the Jakarta Post of Indonesia.
Long Xiang, who represented Jiangsu province's disciplinary commission, gave a presentation that outlined measures to root out corruption in the region. He provided a detailed explanation about procedures and disclosed accounts of investigative cases without revealing the names of the alleged assailants. He spoke about an investigative team that successfully uncovered and exposed criminality.
According Long Xiang, there was an instance in which a construction company colluded with local bidding judges to grant favorable treatment to award municipal government contracts on major projects to a particular construction company.
Here's how the scheme came into fruition. A contractor bribed at least three bidding judges to evaluate an application by the construction company. The judges allegedly approved the application with a careful review and then encouraged other bidding judges to vote in favor of awarding a government contract to the company they initially received a payment from.
Unfortunately, the disciplinary commission failed to expose the names of the alleged conspirators, but if the local government intends to show more sincerity in combating corruption, then disclosing the names could act as a major deterrent against corruption.
Another problem the disciplinary commission most likely faces is that it has outlined a grand strategy and implemented admirable policies, but that does not guarantee positive results. When government officials design a blueprint to fight corruption, certain criminals closely scrutinize the directives to find loopholes and instigate more creative methods to commit crimes.
Beijing should place a greater emphasis on enforcing stiffer penalties against wrongdoers and warning the public that its investigative team is working around the clock to uncover corruption. Talking about punishment and the consequences of committing crimes can be considered a more effective way to deter corruption.
However credit should be given where credit is due. Frequently, some Chinese government officials appear reluctant to answer what they may perceive as tough questions from foreign-born reporters. Yet, by answering all sorts of questions, Beijing has a better opportunity to explain its political positions and confront any misunderstandings that may arise.
Officials from the disciplinary commission at first appeared hesitant to answer questions, but after responding to a few questions, the somewhat tense atmosphere seemed to have evaporated, while some officials appeared to enjoy the banter with reporters. Some could be seen smiling and talking with reporters and their peers in a friendlier manner.
Therefore, China's central and local governments should strongly consider shortening prepared speeches at scheduled press conferences and allow for more time to answer questions. Beijing should open its doors more widely to communicate with the foreign press. Certainly at times, tensions and disagreements may develop but better communication with the media could greatly aid China's soft power diplomacy.
Additionally, the more prevalent role of microblogs in China could help the government fight off corruption. Microblogs have become valuable as the 'voice of the people.' Actually, not all microblog reporting is accurate, but it provides an opportunity for ordinary Chinese residents to express their concerns about corruption and offer possible solutions to rooting out corruption.
Hopefully, China will succeed overall in stamping out corruption, since this would enhance the nation's image abroad, improve economic conditions nationwide and help China to continue proceeding along the path to prosperity.