Global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) praises the Chinese mainland in its latest report for stepping up efforts against corruption.
In the newly released 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), TI rates Chinese mainland 72nd out of 180, the same ranking as Asian neighbor India.
The composite index draws on 14 expert opinion surveys, mostly based on perceptions of corruption by businesspeople and country analysts.
It scores countries and regions on a scale from zero to 10, with zero indicating the highest levels of perceived corruption.
The Chinese mainland scored an average of 3.5 this year, an increase of 0.2 from last year.
The country ranked 70 out of the last year's 163 countries and regions.
A statement with the ranking said TI attributed the increase to a series of reforms in personnel systems, the judiciary, administrative approval systems and financial systems.
It also highlights the establishment of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention, which it said showed an important step in accelerating the build-up of a clean governance system.
"The rise in the score is the result of the crackdown on corruption," it said.
"Effective reforms improve people's evaluation of the cleanness of a country's public sectors."
Tsinghua University professor Ren Jianming said the ranking is basically in accordance with the status quo of corruption in China and immediate big improvements on the index are not likely in the short term.
"The index is mainly affected by the subjective perception of a country," he said.
"Once a perception has formed it takes time to change it."
Echoing Ren, Peking University professor Li Chengyan said that though the slight increase shows international recognition of China's efforts to curb corruption, the comparatively low score implies a belief that corruption is still rampant.
"Combating corruption means institutional changes, not only in the political arena but also in economic and cultural fields," Li said.
"It could result in more attention on anti-corruption work, which is imperative for the country's future," he said.
On this year's index Somalia and Myanmar share the lowest score of 1.4, while Denmark has edged up to share the top score of 9.4 with perennial high-flyers Finland and New Zealand.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ranks 14th while Taiwan is 34th.