Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Battle against corruption takes time to succeed

By Tom Plate (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-01 08:25

The experiences of countries around the world show us that not all corruption campaigns are alike, and that not all of them succeed.

For success, people and their leaders need to sincerely believe that corruption itself is not only morally wrong but-if not that - then, at the very least, that corruption under-mines the country. They also have to believe that official corruption is deeply corrosive: that a corrupt culture in effect punishes those who are honest. And they have to believe that official corruption significantly retards economic development and economic equity. The bottom line being the belief that corruption hurts both the country and the majority of its people.

So if these three convictions are present among the Chinese people and their top government leaders, then experience suggests that the current anti-corruption campaign will be successful in making China a better place. But if the effort is cynical or insincere, as has historically been the case in many other countries, and not just in Asia, then China will have wasted enormous moral and political energy that could have been of colossal value to its rise on the world stage. So far two very powerful "tigers" have seen the inside of the corruption hunters' cage. Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee and the nation's former security chief, and Bo Xilai, the once rising star of the Party.

Truly systematic - not to mention legally accountable investigations, judicial assessments grounded in the law and final judgments that reflect wisdom, take time. Bridges can be erected and tunnels dug much more quickly than official corruption can be contained and reduced.

Indeed, haste not only makes waste, it could also create serious new problems. Only the professional observance of legal procedures and core norms can guard against bulldozer justice.

Tom Plate is the distinguished scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and the author of the forthcoming book 'In the Middle of China's Future'.

Most Viewed Today's Top News