Opinion / Editorials

Shameless graft unsettling

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-19 07:46

Customs offices are supposed to fight smuggling.

But a customs agency in Sha Tau Kok, Shenzhen, did the opposite, collecting bribes from smugglers and providing cover for them.

On Chung Ying Street, a narrow alley that links and separates Shenzhen and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, smuggling was so rampant that it was an "open secret".

The smugglers didn't even bother to conceal their illegal activities from local residents. They would load trucks of illicit goods in broad daylight in front of everyone's eyes.

Customs officers, on the other hand, collected "rewards" according to the number and size of the vehicles they let go.

An initial probe by anti-graft authorities revealed a chain of corruption featuring a clear division of work and a well-defined spoils-sharing regime.

We have heard plenty about organized corruption. But the audacity the corrupt customs officers displayed in this case is particularly disturbing.

This is not just another case of the degradation of an entire government office, or one of rogue gatekeepers.

It is the collective shamelessness that truly unsettles.

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