The Politics of Corruption in Contemporary China: An Analysis of Policy Outcomes

The Politics of Corruption in Contemporary China: An Analysis of Policy Outcomes

The Politics of Corruption in Contemporary China: An Analysis of Policy Outcomes

The Politics of Corruption in Contemporary China: An Analysis of Policy Outcomes


This is the first original book-length study of corruption in the People's Republic of China. The work relates the corruption issue to ongoing political processes and policies of the Chinese Communist Party by examining the broader context of social transformation, consolidation, and modernization in post-1949 China. The study has a twofold goal: (1) to present fresh source material on corruption in China, much of it previously unavailable in the West; and (2) to provide an analysis of China's corruption using a novel approach--the policy outcomes perspective. More specifically, it examines three levels of policies adopted by the Chinese Communist Party (general policies, organizational policies, and anti-corruption policies) to see how certain policy patterns have affected the identification of corruption, corruption forms, and anti-corruption measures.


When I returned to China in the summer of 1990 for the first time since I left the country four years before, I was amazed by the economic changes taking place there: brisk markets with unstable prices, people freely talking about making money, and the prevalence of "gray incomes" associated with second vocations. However, complaints continued to emerge at the interface of these changes. I was told numerous stories in vivid tones about how reform measures enabled government officials to obtain personal gain. It appeared puzzling to me why people were on the one hand enjoying the fruits of reform while, on the other hand, blaming reform for corruption. This stimulated my interest in understanding corruption.

Returning to the campus, I started to survey literature on corruption in general and on China's corruption in particular. I was quite disappointed to find that there was a general shortage of studies on corruption in socialist countries--not a single book, in English or Chinese, dealt exclusively with China's corruption, while the existing corruption literature lost much of its insight when applied to China. I therefore saw the need for a chronological account of what had happened in China in terms of corruption, and also felt the necessity to develop a new approach beyond those conventional ones to analyze China's corruption issue.

From this unhappy discovery emerged my original plan to write something on this topic, which eventually led to this book. For the same reason, this book project has set forth as its dual goals to (1) present fresh source materials on China's corruption based on corruption cases and related statistics from China which may not be accessible to English-language scholars; and to (2) provide explanations for China's corruption problem from a new perspective.

To my good fortune, when I embarked on this book project, China was undertaking one of the largest anti-corruption campaigns in its post-1949 history, the Economic Rectification. A great number of fresh cases accordingly became available. I was therefore able to incorporate into this volume . . .

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