Corruption Within the Party

Published on Author miller

As was discussed briefly in the Li book, corruption can be a problem within such a large, bureaucratic, government. It can spread through all levels, to as small as local cadre in rural areas to the most upper levels of the party. The USSR under Stalin faced the same problems. Such corruption undermines the Communist Party and its values, especially when signs suggest that the highest leaders, or at least their relatives, appear the most corrupt.

Current President Xi Jinping has launched an anti-corruption campaign, and a recent report gives interesting results. The campaign ordered that government officials cease using luxury services such as hotels and restaurants, and these business entities have felt the impact. 56 different five star hotels have begged to have the rating remove as revenues have plummeted. Another leading cognac brand has seen sales fall by 30%.

The campaign however, has proven difficult as President Xi insists on self-monitoring. The Central Committee for Discipline and Inspection serves as a government watch dog to crackdown on corruption. This area itself has also led to conflict when an American based watch dog exposed offshore accounts of government officials, going as high as the President’s family. Trials recently begun for activists who insisted on corruption reforms and monitoring.

Monitoring this reform process, now in its second year, should prove interesting. Corruption throughout the government is seemingly the status quo in the eyes of foreigners at least. Though charges have been brought against some highly ranked officials, it will remain an uphill battle for the Party to establish credibility and faith.

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8 Responses to Corruption Within the Party

  1. Government corruption can be crippling in effects on a nation, as seen with many countries in Africa, to the USA itself. It makes a population question those in power, and their motives. Are they working for us, themselves, or the highest bidder? Reforms such as the ones being put in place in China are good things to do, but sometimes can have negative effects and be difficult to execute effectively. These policies should be used, and politicians should be monitored, but there may be more effective ways of doing this.

  2. If you go to this website:, you can basically see countries’ corruption levels. China’s rank is 80, which is below the average. The corruption problem is a big problem in China. This affects economic growth, income distribution, monopoly, etc. Hopefully the policy by Xi Jinping works.

  3. I think corruption is essentially impossible to stop at the level of inception. There will always be individuals who are lured into illegal, self-serving actions; it’s simply a matter of risk versus reward. Therefore, I think the best way to combat corruption at this level is the implementation of some system that limits the temptations of corruption and significantly increases the risk of being exposed. For that reason, I like the policy recently implemented by Xi Jinping and will be interested to see if it works.

    • See below. My sense from the Law & Economics literature (I spent one year in a law school in Japan, and co-taught a course on L&E) is that the risk-reward model has very weak explanatory power. To put it another way, Americans and Japanese are on the whole far more honest than predicted by models that only consider pecuniary factors. That may be a “created” culture, helped by the gradual development of management techniques that provide checks against corruption through better and more timely accounting, requirements that people in different offices sign off on deals, the presence of ombudsmen who field complaints, standardized work rules so that bosses can’t pocket the pay of subordinates (one impetus for unionization in the 1930s) and transparency in prices.

  4. What is interesting is that Xi Jinping’s policy of banning “conspicuous consumption” on the part of officials is one that dates back through the millennia of China’s history and has long been used to curb popular unrest. So what is surprising to international observers is the broadness and comprehensiveness with which Xi’s policy is being applied, and the success it seems to be having in eliciting public praise and approval. The real question is, will China the make the reforms sufficient for it to feel comfortable allowing free discourse, protest, and access to the internet? In terms of CBA, the central government would like to simultaneously use the fewest resources to curb as much corruption as possible–that is, minimize the sum of total costs of enforcement and total costs of corruption.

  5. How historically did the US lessen corruption levels? – Tammany Hall, to give but one example? My sense – I’m not a historian – is that corruption was pervasive in many other societies in which today it is the exception, not the norm. That ought to be a good paper topic in politics or economics…