Evan Osnos’ Letter from China in last week’s New Yorker included this excerpt from a piece circulating in China (in Chinese only) about the violence in Xinjiang. It’s attributed to Zhong Dajun, described as a prominent economic consultant and former editor at the China Economic Times:
This problem arises from the corruption of the government. The Xinjiang incident gives the Chinese government a clear lesson, and gives muddleheaded officials a sharp warning slap! All problems are related to government corruption. In recent years, if the government had done a number of things better, society would never have built up so much dissatisfaction. The savagery of society and the greediness of government are proportional to each other. All of the blame should not go only to those separatists overseas . . . but also to those bureaucrats who are still dreaming in a nest of corruption. Sleep lightly. After all, who should pay the blood debt to the people?
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This week, China’s Xinhua news agency reported here the release of “three new disciplinary regulations to prevent and fight corruption.” The report said the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee announced the regulations “to promote officials’ accountability and state-owned enterprise leaders’ integrity, and strengthen inspection inside the Party, aiming to curb corruption and improve government competence.”
More regulations? They’re not the answer unless they can somehow propel a cultural shift among the CCP cadre. President Hu Jintao has warned several times publicly that corruption is the greatest threat to the Party’s legitimacy.
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Some words we can believe in by President Obama about corruption and poverty, the rule of law and freedom, from his speech Saturday in Accra, Ghana:
Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves . . . or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top . . . or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success — strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges . . . an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people’s everyday lives.