The US-China Business Council (the “USCBC”) continues to track the anti-corruption measures being taken in China by the administration of President Xi Jinping.
A recent article and timeline of regulations (available here) by USCBC Research Associate Tim Donovan tracks various restraints being imposed on Chinese officials in such areas as the use of luxury foreign automobile brands, galas and official dinners (where shark fin soup, bird’s nest soup and wild animal products are banned) and other special privileges, such as limits on VIP membership cards and special traffic permits.
Donovan’s article reports that Chinese disciplinary agencies have punished about 182,000 officials during 2013, an increase of 13.3% over 2012. The article notes President Xi’s often-quoted distinction between “tigers” (high officials) and “flies” (lower-level officials). Interestingly, the article quotes a survey of Beijing-based “flies,” who find that the new regulatory climate is “very strict” and has affected their lives personally and financially.
The key to Chinese anti-corruption measures is consistent and even-handed enforcement, and the jury is still out on these issues. In addition, official excesses are only the tip of the Chinese corruption iceberg.
The USCBC is the leading trade association of U.S. companies doing business with China. Founded in 1973, it is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in both Beijing and Shanghai. Its membership includes companies of all sizes, although some of the U.S.’s largest, longest term and most active China traders and investors are members. More information about the USCBC is available on its web site.
USCBC members consistently list corruption among their leading concerns about the Chinese business environment. Thus, we can expect the USCBC to continue to devote significant attention to business ethics in China.
Benjamin P. Fishburne, III, practices law independently and has been a partner in several major international law firms. He was a colleague of legendary international lawyer and China law pioneer, the late Walter Sterling Surrey. He is a former Assistant General Counsel and, later, General Counsel of the USCBC. He can be reached here.