China's Striking Anti-Corruption Adventure: A Political Journey Towards the Rule of Law?
Book chapter in 'The Beijing Consensus? How China Has Changed the Western Ideas of Law and Economic Development' (Weitseng Chen ed., CUP, 2016 Forthcoming)
26 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: January 27, 2016
China is a high-corruption country and the ruling Communist Party (“the Party”) has made anti-corruption enforcement a top priority. China is also well known for her authoritarian decisiveness in policy making and her effectiveness in policy implementation with a centralized political control contrasting sharply with a decentralized economic policy. This chapter examines two key aspects of this formulation. First, how has the authoritarian characteristic affected China’s anticorruption enforcement; and, second, how is China different from other countries, authoritarian or otherwise, in this regard?
This chapter discusses China’s anti-corruption enforcement within the context of the convergence/divergence debate and examines the degree to which the Chinese anti-corruption model converges or diverges from the prevailing “international best practice” that is commonly observed in the high income/low corruption countries. Specifically this chapter will also discuss whether China could develop an anti-corruption system that operates within a rule-based legal framework. The principal argument is that China’s anti-corruption practice manifests certain core features that may be unique to the Chinese political context and those features show most strikingly at the height of an anti-corruption campaign. But if we look beyond an exceptional “strike-hard campaign” that targets the “tigers”, shift the focus to the more routine enforcement against “flies”, and, in particular, observe China’s anti-corruption enforcement for a longer time span, it becomes clearer that China does not operate an anticorruption model sui generis. As the anti-corruption storm dies down (as it will naturally occur), the enforcement will become more routine, regularized, and institutional. When that happens, the Chinese anti-corruption model, if any, will appear no different from models elsewhere.
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