CORRUPTION AND PUNISHMENT IN CHINA
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The People’s Republic of China is an economic giant now. The economy is ever growing. The Chinese consumer goods have flooded markets of the world. Go East or go West, go North or go South, the department stores, the malls and even the street vendors sell Chinese goods. Notwithstanding the anti publicity that the Chinese manufacturers got on account of unacceptable proportion of led in paint on its goods, especially toys, the market all over the world is ever eager to import merchandise from China. Playing, of course, with those toys was detrimental to the health of children. Some goods were even shipped back to China. And yet the international trade of China has flourished. It speaks well of the price structure and marketing technique of Chinese manufacturers. So much so that even the United States of America had an adverse trade balance with China in respect of consumer goods. It did not grow more because China was keen on buying Defence weapon systems and equipment from America to modernise the People’s Liberation Army. Indeed America was too happy to sell but not transfer technology in case of weapon system where her own defence could be adversely affected in future. This is the case with Europe and other developed and developing countries too. India is no exception. India had no military hardware that China needed but has plenty of Information Technology and software thereof on which China has always been keen. Thus China’s international trade has grown by leaps and bounds and hard currency has flown in.
MONEY CORRUPTS POWER CORRUPTS
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – that has been the saying from time immemorial. History bears out the truth of this saying. The political system may be anything from monarchy to democracy via aristocracy, the ruler or the ruling elite fell from grace when they enjoyed absolute power in the absence of checks and balances. Eventually they fell from the throne or the seat of power too. While that saying still holds sway, a new one has crept in. Money corrupts and abundance of money corrupts abundantly. This phenomenon of monetary corruption has made heavy inroads into the culture and body politic of China. Among many reasons we may choose two to start with. One is the political system and the other is territorial imbalance in economic growth. As China will be completing the Diamond Jubilee of Red Star over China on 1st October 2009, it is time these two issues were addressed on a priority basis. It may be clarified right here that we are making a mere friendly suggestion and it should not be taken as a criticism of the political and economic system of China.
Let us take the political system first. Although the one party rule in China has hastened the country’s progress it has made men and women who matter in the party all important who brook no criticism. The Communist Party of China has been the monarch of all it surveys from the beginning. The Communists and their Army , PLA, won the hard fought battle against the Nationalist party of Chiang Kai -Shek and threw them out beyond the shores of Chinese mainland to Formosa (now Taiwan). 1st October 1949 onwards they held unparalleled power and executive authority to take the country forward. Mao Tse-tung, the great leader and architect of Communist victory and military takeover of China said “power comes out of the barrel of a gun and it is the party that controls the gun”. This theory and practice of political philosophy holds good even today. The Communist party has got the taste of power and the country has made tremendous progress, so the ideologues feel there is no need to change or to bring in a type of democracy that is practised in the West. However, this absolute power did corrupt some people in power and brought a bad name to the party and the people. It must, however, be said that it goes to the credit of big leaders that they ensured trial and punishment of those who had gone astray.
The credit for this unprecedented economic growth of China must be given to a leader diminutive physically but a giant in political thought and economic philosophy, Deng Hsiao-ping .It was he who broke China from shackles of orthodox Communism and motivated men and women to enter into a new era of production and consumption and encouraged private enterprise. With the result the floodgates of economic growth opened. China did not have to look back. However, the People’s Republic of China was no more a Communist country, if one were to interpret Communism as Karl Marx did. Never mind that, so thought Deng Hsiao-ping and added “how does it matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice”. Sure, the cat is catching mice and exporting it too. The need of the hour is to keep an eye on leaders who wield authority so that they do not line their own pockets and deprive the national exchequer of its revenues.
The law and its implementation to curb economic corruption are showing results. It may be mentioned that an ex-airport chief of Beijing, the national capital, was executed on 7 Aug 09 for corruption and embezzlement. Li Peiying, 60, was found guilty of accepting four million US dollars in bribe. He was also found guilty of embezzling 12 million US dollars of public money since 1995. The law eventually caught up with him and he has now lost his life. Although a plea for leniency was made by his attorney since he had returned the stolen money, the court still ordered his execution which was confirmed by the Supreme Court. It may be noted that the government is also investigating head of the country’s nuclear programme for alleged corruption. The head of the biggest oil company, Sinopec, has also been given a suspended death sentence for accepting a bribe of 29 million US dollars. If the big fish are caught the small ones may not go that way. As a matter of fact China may like to take the world community into confidence and let other countries know how to stop economic corruption in big places. The names of big guns in politics who have been caught and punished for economic corruption may also be made public.
TERRITORIAL IMBALANCE IN ECONOMIC GROWTH
Taking a look at the areas in China that have been a beneficiary of rich economic growth, one finds these are located in the coastal areas only. The trade and commerce, both national and international, have grown phenomenally in these areas. Consequently the people living there have become rich and have improved the quality of life. Among the metropolitan cities is Shanghai which has now an international character. No wonder the civic authorities now advise the Chinese residents not to roam about in the markets or streets in pyjamas as that does not look smart. The citizens should be suitably and smartly dressed to leave a good impression on foreigners who now visit Shanghai in large numbers. Will there be a punishment for those who infringe this advisory? Not yet. The aim of putting the best foot forward and presenting a good image of China to the world has to be achieved, though.
The large areas of North-west China and other outlying provinces like Xinjiang, Chinghai and even Tibet have not had a share of the apple pie. With the result the poverty that existed before has not been removed to the extent as has been done in the coastal areas. This imbalance in economic prosperity has obviously led to social and political tensions among the people of different ethnic groups. Of course, the leadership in Beijing is quite aware of this problem and plans are being made to establish employment generating industries in the hinterland. These newly provided plants may manufacture goods, garments, toys etc for export and earn foreign exchange for the country. This will help remove the financial disparity in the long run and consequently social tensions may disappear.
Beijing is quite aware of the fact that regional disputes with neighbouring States should be resolved and war like situation should be prevented. Of course, the policy makers may like to ensure that the philosophy of peace should permeate all echelons of the government and the people. Indeed the path to prosperity lies through peace.
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