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Author Topic: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’  (Read 2250 times)

Stil

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Global Times: People should permit a moderate [or appropriate] amount of corruption in China

It was announced yesterday that former Railway Minister and Party Secretary Liu Zhijun was fired, the issues of his suspected crimes to dealt by judicial authorities in accordance with the law. This piece of news once again touched the public’s most sensitive nerve, that dealing with corruption. From a national perspective, there is indeed continuous news of corrupt officials being sacked, which does give people the feeling that corruption is “unending/overwhelming”. They aren’t catching/arresting less, it’s that you can never catch them all [never finish catching them all]. Just what is going on?

China obviously has a high incidence of corruption, and the conditions for completely eliminating corruption do not exist at present. Some people say, as long as we have “democracy”, the problem of corruption can be easily solved. However, this kind of view is naive. Asia has many “democratic countries”, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, India, etc. where corruption are all much more severe than China. But China may very likely be the Asian country with the most pronounced sense of “resentment towards corruption”.

This is related to China’s “serve the people!” official political morals having deeply been engrained in the people’s heart throughout society. However, the reality is that the market economy has attacked its practicality/feasibility, resulting in an government officials who half-heartedly observe it or have even betrayed it constantly slipping through various crack in the system. China is a country that has been deeply penetrated by globalization and the high standards of integrity of developed countries is already known by the Chinese public, and with information coming from different periods and different circumstances being forcible stuffed into China’s sphere of public opinion, bitterness and consternation can find no relief.

Corruption in any country is unable to be permanently controlled/cured, so the key is to control what the degree that the people will permit/allow. However, to do this is particularly difficult for China.

Singapore and China’s Hong Kong institute a policy of high pay to discourage corruption. Many American political candidates are wealthy, and normally when someone becomes a government official there, they accumulate renown and connections. After office, they can use then various “revolving doors” to change all they have accumulated into financial return. However, these options and possibilities are not available in China.

Giving government officials large salaries is something Chinese public opinion cannot accept. Allowing government officials to step down and use their influence and connections to make big money is something the system does not allow. Allowing the wealthy to become government officials is something that people find even more unpalatable. The legal salaries of China’s government officials is very low, and the compensation for officials of some places is often realized through “unwritten rules”.

All of Chinese society now has some “unwritten rules”. In industries that involve the public welfare such as doctors and teachers, “unwritten rules” have also become popular. Many people’s statutory income isn’t high, but they have “gray income”.

What are the boundaries for “unwritten rules”? This isn’t clear. This is also one of the reason for why there are relatively many corruption cases now, with some even being “cases of a community of corruption”. Amongst the people, there is the popular saying that “what is commonplace amongst the people cannot be punished by the law”, and the moment government officials believe this saying while believing “others are the same as me”, then he is already in danger [of becoming corrupt].

Those who engage in corruption must be strictly investigated, and not to be tolerated, as this would greatly increase the risk and cost of corruption, creating the requisite deterrent effect. The government must make the reduction of corruption the biggest objective of their governance.

The people must resolutely increase supervision through public opinion, pushing the government to fight corruption. However, the people must also reasonably understand the reality and objective fact that China is unable at its present stage to thoroughly suppress the corruption, and not sink the entire country into despair.

Writing this definitely does not mean we believe fighting corruption is not important or should be put off. Quite the opposite, we believe fighting corruption indeed is the number one problem that must be solved for the reform of China’s political system, and it is also the common demand of the entire country.

However, we believe that fighting corruption is not something that can be completely “fought” nor completely “reformed” because at the same time, it needs “development” to help solve it. It is a problem of the individual corrupt officials as well as the system, but that’s not all. It is also a problem of the Chinese society’s “overall level of development”.

Fighting corruption is a difficult/entrenched battle in the development of Chinese society, but its victory at the same time hinges upon the clearing of various obstacles on other battlefields. China can never be a country where other aspects are very backward and only its government officials are clean. Even if it is for a time, it won’t last long. Eliminating corruption would be a breakthrough/turning point for China, but this country ultimately can only “advance overall” [any specific progress requires overall progress/development].


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Pashley

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2012, 04:34:36 AM »
This is related to China’s “serve the people!” official political morals having deeply been engrained in the people’s heart throughout society. However, the reality is that the market economy has attacked its practicality/feasibility, resulting in an government officials who half-heartedly observe it or have even betrayed it constantly slipping through various crack in the system.

Right, it is the fault of the market economy.

Ignore the fact that there has been corruption in China for centuries. Confucius dealt with the problem at length.
Who put a stop payment on my reality check?

Nolefan

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012, 05:24:29 AM »
IMHO, China gets a bit too much of a bad rep on this. sure, it's called corruption/hongbao here but I'm not sure i can think of a single country that can claim it's been corruption-free.
The western civilized world has beautified the concept and calls it lobbies, campaign contributions, tax deductible donations etc....

This is one side where i like the way they do things here.. gifts are expected and not frown upon! you just need to know who and what.
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Pashley

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012, 06:11:54 AM »
IMHO, China gets a bit too much of a bad rep on this. sure, it's called corruption/hongbao here but I'm not sure i can think of a single country that can claim it's been corruption-free.

There was a lovely book some years back called "But Not in Canada". Each chapter took one of the myths we Canadians have about awful stuff that happens in the US "but not in Canada" and exploded it. Chapter one was on racism, with extensive discussion of the treatment of Chinese immigrants in 1870s BC. Nasty!

The chapter on corruption was brief. It pointed out that only one Canadian Prime Minister in 100 or so years had managed not to lose a cabinet minister in some sort of influence peddling or other corruption scandal. That one was a guy who was PM for only four days before losing a vote that forced an election. 
Who put a stop payment on my reality check?

Fozzwaldus

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2012, 06:33:40 AM »
yes, ok, there is corruption everywhere...

BUT...

the sheer scale and pervasiveness of graft in China is terrifying....

in Canada, new roads don't collapse into sink-holes, and schools don't collapse under earthquakes because of embezzled funds

in USA 60-70% of research funding isn't embezzled by uni professors

Ireland hasn't lost BILLIONS of dollars in public money in the last 20 years to politicians fleeing abroad...

in Australia you don't need to bribe a doctor/policeman/teacher to do their job

in UK low level civil servants don't go around dressed from head to toe in Prada

...

« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 09:02:21 AM by Fozzwaldus »
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NATO

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2012, 06:48:23 AM »
Surprise surprise the author has committed a reasoning fallacy. He should be not pointing at democratic countries saying "look, their corruption is worse", he should be looking at the least corrupt countries in the world and trying to figure out what it is that makes them so. I'd hazard to say that a large portion of them are mature democracies.

kitano

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2012, 07:37:04 AM »
Italy also has endemic corruption like China. They had a (civil/legal) revolution about it in the mid 90s (Tangentopoli, it's a fascinating story if you have time to read about it) and the end result was Berlusconi who was worse for the country than the complacent and corrupt governments that went before

I do think Nolefan has a point that it isn't unique to China at all. Is China really more corrupt than India, Brazil or Russia?
How about the countries below them on the ladder in Saharan Africa or Central Asia etc?
(Of course you can extend this argument to say that the countries where civil service etc are run above board depend on the corrupt countries to do this, companies from the 'corruption free' countries will have obviously paid bribes to get into the Chinese market etc)


I had a flatmate when I lived in Jiangsu who had worked in India before he came to China and he said that there is absolutely no comparison.

Fozzwaldus

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2012, 08:48:08 AM »
@Kitano -  bjbjbjbjbj fair enough, point(s) taken.

« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 09:02:53 AM by Fozzwaldus »
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Fozzwaldus

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2012, 09:06:34 AM »
translated comments on thie piece via Chinasmack:

网易四川省成都市网友:

    Global Shit newspaper.

    [Note: The original Chinese comment involves a pun on the word 时 shi, "times" with 屎 shi, "shit".]

网易河北省保定市网友:

    Reporter, you must permit my moderate “go fuck yourself”, you must be understanding.

海哥0 [网易山东省济南市网友]:

    There are no less than 8 types of Chinese corrupt officials, and everyone should know these classic types:

        Doesn’t have a high salary but has no shortage of money in the bank;
        Doesn’t understand a foreign language but has no shortage of trips going abroad;
        Doesn’t look handsome but has no shortage of mistresses;
        Doesn’t go to work much but has no shortage of social events;
        Doesn’t speak well but has no shortage of applause;
        Doesn’t write essays/articles but has no shortage of opinions;
        Doesn’t have any skill but has no shortage of winning money;
        Doesn’t handle things fairly but has no shortage of collecting money.

戴三只表 [网易广东省广州市网友]:

    After seeing the news of a Philippine Chief Justice being impeached for concealing millions in assets, I now know the reason for why the Imperialist Philippines is a strong country.

夜風長嘆 [网易广东省广州市越秀区网友]:

    Can Global Times please not be so disgusting?

蓝色多瑙河123 [网易北京市朝阳区网友]:

    Corruption should be given the support of the law.

网易上海市闵行区网友:

    I only want to say: Your MB.

Lohengramm [网易安徽省合肥市网友]:

    Can I use profanity?

z09261 [网易云南省昆明市网友]:

    From a national perspective, there is indeed continuous news of corrupt officials being sacked, which does give people the feeling that corruption is “unending/overwhelming”. They aren’t catching/arresting less, it’s that you can never catch them all [finish catching them all]. Just what is going on?

滥情的钕秂酒醉慯 [网易广东省深圳市罗湖区网友]:

    Actually, without corruption, some things may not be able to be done or would be delayed, so we can’t just look at the superficial corruption but should look at the essence of the matter. As a person, those who are officials have also expended their efforts, so them having suitable compensation is appropriate. We can’t demand that only we can have money and government officials be uncorrupted…

打一光波 [网易陕西省西安市网友]: (responding to above)

    I have nothing to say to a big stupid cunt like you, I only want to yell at you.

dbl128 [网易江苏省宿迁市网友]:

    From so many netizen comments we can see just how much the people resent corruption.

1614353381 [网易福建省福州市网友]: (responding to above)

    It’s all American running dogs and wumao commenting, this doesn’t represent anything, just people posting for money.

ge2008sh2010 [网易浙江省宁波市网友]: (responding to above)

    So anyone posting a comment is collecting money for it? SBs have no limit to how stupid they can be!!!

订婚坐花轿 [网易甘肃省兰州市网友]: (responding to 1614353381)

    Global Times: People should permit a moderate amount of corruption in China===========Can poor people with low wages moderately go rob a bank?

纯真的流氓 [网易广东省中山市网友]: (responding to above)

    Trying to speak reason with this Fujian wumao is like playing a lute to a cow/casting pearls before swine.

lain520 [网易福建省漳州市网友]: (responding to above)

    On the issue of corruption, I don’t think there has ever been a divide between American running dogs and wumao! It seems to be very unanimous~~

易江苏省常州市网友: (responding to above)

    Would wumao dare accuse their masters of being corrupt?

潜风润梦 [网易河南省郑州市网友]:

    Moderate, moderate, what great wording! However, can one talk about moderation in corruption? As long as it is corruption, it is all excessive.

网易北京市网友:

    The discussion is very intense, but even if you criticize it, so what, nothing will change.

Best白 [网易重庆市网友]:

    Bullshit, then the people should be allowed to choose their own government officials.

泪惊雨 [网易广东省广州市海珠区网友]:

    When it comes to corruption, zero-tolerance! Only this way will the country’s people have hope!

shangqiuzhoukou [网易河南省商丘市网友]:

    Global Times has let out a stench of a fart, practically encouraging corruption, legalizing corruption. This kind stinking fart has fully revealed how completely and ridiculously brain dead some people are. With such brain dead, shameless recording of their crimes, let history forever remember their shamelessness!

心不古 [网易上海市长宁区网友]:

    My IQ can no longer keep up with this country. Once again I’ve been raped.

emosai2003 [网易广东省广州市天河区网友] 的原贴: (responding to above)

    It stopped being rape long ago and became gang rape.

猴子洛克 [网易黑龙江省伊春市网友] 的原贴: (responding to above)

    Doesn’t count if a condom is worn, stupid! [Refers to an infamous 2011 case where police told a Guizhou teacher she was not raped because the government official wore a condom.]

心中无马 [网易辽宁省大连市网友] 的原贴: (responding to above)

    The people should permit moderate amounts of not wearing a condom, the people should be understanding…

蝗虫之一 [网易广东省佛山市网友]: (responding to above)

    The rabble should permit moderate law-breaking?

liushizhou1981 [网易浙江省绍兴市网友]: (responding to above)

    I wonder if they’d allow the rabble to moderately go kill corrupt officials!

网易广东省广州市网友:

    NetEase, the headquarters of American running dogs.
    Isn’t this report an intentional slandering of Global Times?
    This kind of article is just an individual’s commentary/opinion, comparable to someone posting a personal comment on NetEase or Weibo.
    But NetEase casually attributes it as the view of Global Times!
    This just goes to show how those in the same industry are like enemy nations.

    This isn’t the first time Global Times has been slandered by NetEase, nor does Global Times always sing praises [of China].
    Under Global Times is a periodical called Satire and Humor, which has been needling social ills for decades now.
    It has even attacked some unpopular government policies.
    Social problems that netizens are concerned about, they have that too.
    Internet netizens even often forward and repost comics/political cartoons from there [Global Times].

    Global Times’ original headline is “Fighting corruption is a difficult battle in the development of Chinese society”, and in the article is “Writing this definitely does not mean we believe fighting corruption is not important or should be put off. Quite the opposite, we believe fighting corruption indeed is the number one problem that must be solved for the reform of China’s political system, and it is also the common demand of the entire country.”

    Sina and Sohu both republished this, but they didn’t change the title. But when it came to NetEase, it became “The People should permit a moderate amount of corruption in China”. The motives of NetEase is clear for everyone to see!

    Netizen comments only reflect netizen’s individual views, it doesn’t mean NetEase agrees with their views or verifies their narratives, but if [NetEase] continues to delete comments, it definitely can makes it clear just what NetEase’s position is.
    At the same time, may the entire family of those deleting comments all get cancer!

    NetEase, NetEase, you won’t even let me NOT criticize you, you changed the title yet again! Just how different is “The People should be understanding of the phenomenon of corruption in China’s present stage [of development]” and “The People should permit a moderate amount of corruption in China”! This was someone else’s commentary article, regardless of whether or not you agree with the viewpoint, but if it were your own article being altered, would you agree to others falsifying your title by taking something out of context?
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Fozzwaldus

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2012, 12:03:21 PM »
interesting article

http://www.echinacities.com/expat-corner/gift-of-the-graft-corruption-in-china.html

"You are in China. You come to China as foreigner it is your responsibility to know all the laws of China and obey them. You get no special treatment. You go now." Thus speaks the officious little turtleneck as he chucks my passport back onto the table, denies my visa application and storms out. My consultant yelps and scurries after him, but to no avail. Later, traipsing out of the police station, we learn that the particular "law of China" I have violated is one stating I must re-register at my local station every single time I re-enter the country. I have registered twice before (I live on the HK border and flit back and forth regularly) and have been assured – both by the local officers fed up of seeing me and my new company's usually helpful consultancy firm – that so long as I am registered it will be fine, but not so here. This time it matters, and for whatever infuriatingly inexplicable reason I am now a long way up the proverbial creek with the CCP having just impounded my paddle.

My consultant is stumped, as am I. Sitting on the steps outside, I feel an overwhelming urge to do or say something regrettable in the direct line-of-sight of all the blue uniforms, but then I begin noticing that every single person strolling by is laden with stuffed gift bags. I also spy lots of red envelopes. It is the week before Spring Festival and I assume everyone has been shopping, but as a sudden cloud of comprehension passes over my consultant's face, I realise that something else is going on. We depart, return the next day, wait patiently while my consultant disappears into the visa officer's room and rise as one when he miraculously emerges fifteen minutes later. In his fist is a form marked with that holiest seal of Chinese officialdom: a red stamp. I'm in!

Gifting or grafting?

So what happened? It is a familiar story for many an expat. Turns out everyone walking into the police station had not been shopping, but – at this most ostentatious time of year – had been bringing in the requisite 'presents of good will.' Turns out we were the only people (dumb foreigners) in the whole police station without anything to offer. Turns out that with only five days before the holiday, the officers really couldn't be taking any new cases into their brimming workloads and didn't appreciate our 'ingratitude.' Turns out my consultant needed to be a little more generous. I ask him what present he brought to expedite things, expecting perhaps a bottle of wine or some fancy maotai, but he informs me nothing less than 1,500 RMB in a red envelope folded inside my application would have done it. I choke on my C'est Bon and the consultant laughs at my typically foreign squeamishness. He tells me this sort of thing happens all the time and apologises for the delay, saying he really should have thought of this beforehand. The unwritten rules (潜规则 - qián guīzé) of China are every bit as important as the written ones.

Now, corruption happens everywhere, I'd be remiss if I didn't address that, but China makes the rest of us look like rank amateurs. There is even a three-pronged measurement system. The anecdote above is a perfect example of 'graft,' the most common of the three types of corruption rampant in the PRC: hong-baos (or lucky money) are common presents around Chinese New Year, and many a foreign teacher can attest to a welcome gift or two being passed their way. This is usually harmless, but it can have a dark underbelly. In many instances it is fine, but the second these gifts start to be 'expected' then things go awry. At this particular police station, so many people were bringing gifts that it became the norm, and those who didn't were viewed dimly by the officers who had obviously decided that they were owed something in the first place. Cheeky scamps. It is not uncommon: not a day goes by without a story in some regional paper or other of people in public office getting sent down for offences related to graft. It is as much a part of modern China as rampant development, KTV bars and smog, and just as hard to avoid.

Rent-seeking and prebendalism

The second most common type of corruption is 'rent-seeking', which refers to all forms of corrupt behaviour by people with monopolistic power. Public officials, through granting a license or monopoly to their clients, get "rents" – additional earnings as a result of a restricted market – and therefore make a bit extra on the side. Anyone who has ever tried to set up a business in China will be painfully familiar with these sorts of extortionists. Coming in for regular criticism are the fire department and health and safety brigades, who need to grant you a license before your new business can operate. Surprise, surprise, lots of problems begin arising when you try to get one. That is, until a healthily fat envelope is delivered surreptitiously to the man at the top (here, graft bleeds into rent-seeking: as you can see, the categories themselves are as open and permeable as the wallets of those in charge).

Prebendalism, the third form of corruption, generally refers to those in public office who get (and abuse) perks and privileges through that office they take advantage of. This happens the world over – think the MP's expenses scandal in the UK – but against the background hive of corrupt activity going on in China, it is yet another thing to get riled up about. It is worth noting however, that in the context of guanxi-based societal hierarchies, there may not be a monetary incentive. Prebendalism can be nepotistic rather than financial (favours for people within your guanxi circle rather than self-interest), which is something rather unique to China.

The reasons

As with everything in China, there are many explanations and excuses. Some scholars maintain that corruption in China results from the Party's inability to maintain a disciplined and effective administrative corps because they – in effect – have to police themselves. The CCP is so involved in every stage of the process that they have to set, obey, and uphold their own rules at the same time, which, according to Lü Xiaobo, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, is just "asking for trouble." His approach is called 'New Institutionalism,' and it argues the government has failed to build enough incentive (salary hikes, non-vested pensions) and restraint (tighter supervision, actual punishment) mechanisms into the system to prevent underpaid employees from feeling like they deserve a bit extra. What is truly amazing is that the CCP openly acknowledges that this is the case. A government not known for owning up to its short-comings is fairly clear-cut about this: enough wasn't done before, and now it's a huge problem.

Countermeasures and responses

There are plenty of commissions set up to counter corruption, but they usually take a trophy or two before things return to normal. There is even a phrase for it: 杀一儆百 (shā yī jǐngbǎi). The Central Committee for Discipline Inspection and the Central Organization Department are both tasked with tackling corruption, but they are ineffective. Statistics from investigators Minxin Pei and Daniel Kaufmann show that the odds for a corrupt Chinese official to end up in prison are less than three percent, essentially making corruption a high-return, low-risk activity. They state in no uncertain terms that it is the leniency of punishment that has been the main reason corruption is such a serious problem in China.

Local officials may be targeted in the media, but senior CCP members are all but impervious. The CCDI and the COD also operate in secrecy, meaning that no one can see who is disciplined and how, leading to rather intense scepticism in the public. The one recent ray of light has been in the fallout from the recent Bo Xilai scandal in Chongqing. He is the most senior official in the CCP's history to be brought low in the media, and there is now a palpable sense of sights being fixed much higher up the food chain. Bo Xilai may not have been formally charged with corruption, but the internet is rife with rumours and for the first time in living memory the Chinese population is beginning a real, open debate about it. The CCP in recent years has shown hesitant, yet positive progress towards the idea of reform, and perhaps now in the current climate the problem of corruption can finally be tackled. Until the comprehensive reforms needed are undertaken China will continue to be plagued by corruption, but at least now people are finally starting to talk about it on a national level.
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xwarrior

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 01:14:34 PM »
So, the Chinese version will now read:

Power corrupts ... and absolute power corrupts only moderately.

 ababababab
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2012, 01:31:43 PM »
Comparing corruption levels is something like comparing the number of oranges in the grocery store. This is important because when the level of oranges is so high that there is no other fruit present, then you can still eat fruit. But when the level of corruption is so high that there is no other practice, can you still be governed? That's the point about corruption--it is incompatible with basic service.

Or to put it another way, talking about giving gifts isn't talking about corruption. That's just guanxi. Corruption is the denial of services, or opportunity, or security. It is the essence of non-government. The author of the article should accept a moderate amount of miscalculation of his salary.

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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: ‘Chinese Public Should Permit a Moderate Amount of Corruption’
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 01:49:17 PM »
Also, it might be worth claiming that guanxi, in its best, most idealised form, means delaying services until some culturally appropriate relationship has been formed. Furthermore, that relationship is, at least in principle, eventually reciprocal. Corruption, by contrast, is just fucking people over.

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