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Eric Carlson
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The corruption within us

Yang Hengjun is a China-born writer now based in Australia. His Chinese language blog is featured on major Chinese current affairs and international relations sites and his posts are read by millions.

He once worked in the Chinese Foreign Ministry and as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

He holds a Ph.D. from Australia’s University of Technology in Sydney.

The Diplomat, a current-affairs publication for Asia, published an essay by Yang last month that it translated from Chinese. (The original on Yang’s blog is here.)

In the essay, Yang said ordinary Chinese people don’t rely on the rule of law. Instead they rely on contacts and relationships to solve problems. In other words, they rely on corruption.

Drivers in a car accident all have insurance but don’t call their insurance companies. Instead they call friends or relatives in the traffic police.

People who are sued don’t look for lawyers. They look for family members in the legal system or bureaucracy who’ll be able to help from the inside.

“Fortunately,” Yang said, “Chinese people have tons of uncles and aunts. Except for a few hundred million peasants, almost every person can find some way to work their connections to decide their fate — and the fate of the Chinese legal system.”

The antidote to the lawlessness? Taking personal responsibility and rejecting graft and corruption, no matter how petty.

Here’s an excerpt from Yang’s essay, courtesy of The Diplomat:

________

When we blindly complain about, criticize, and curse the corruption of the system and of officials, why don’t we search our own conscience and examine our own responsibilities and duties? Yes, we are the powerless; of course we don’t have the power to be corrupt. But even the powerless have a sort of power. We have the power not to bow and scape to those who hold the official seals. We have the power to say no to those judges who accept bribes and issue unjust rulings. We have the power to fight to the end against corrupt officials, to report and expose them. If we start with ourselves, and resist the “corruption” that comes from within or beside us, then the corrupt “flies” will have no place to hide, and the corrupt “tigers” will become true paper tigers.

Have you been corrupt today? Tomorrow, will you silently accept, permit, or cooperate in others’ corruption? When will you be ready to fight corruption?

__________

Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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