Monday, March 01, 2010

Ryan Pyle Blog: Ethics? What Ethics?


After 13 years, the Communist Party has decided to brush up their ethics code book. And why not, the country has changed significantly since 1997 and government officials need to be brought on board to the new expectations people have for them.

As the original article indicates, see below, Party members are to avoid: Money making deals, property speculation and lavish expenditure. They should not accept gifts or use their influence to help family members. So basically they are being asked to stop doing all the fun things that being a party member allow you to do in China. No more lavish weddings with rows upon rows of pimped out cars that 99% of regular Chinese folks could never afford. No more over the top funerals. No more, no more, no more. While stuff like this may seem obvious to you and I, many in the lower and middle ranks of government here will be taken aback by these new regulations. Yes, there is a different style of thinking in this country when it comes to governing; which seems ancient in so many ways.

If you think Wall Street has an image problem? Corrupting the financial system and hurting Main Street, driving up unemployment and walking away with record bonuses; well that doesn't even compare to the frustration directed by ordinary Chinese people at their government officials. With no vote, no media freedom, no freedom of speech and no freedom of association; there is absolutely no check on government power at any level. No front page New York Times story to shame officials in to resigning, no Wall Street Journal expose about officials stealing millions from State Owned Enterprises. If there is a story about corruption it has been explicitly ordained by the powers that be in Beijing; no one is caught by surprise.

While the Party uses it's own disciplinary committee to remove members and jail the occasional bad apple, it's generally seen as a joke. And the idea of an independent commission, or regulatory body, just doesn't fly in this part of the world. So publicly introducing a new ethics code book is a nice step by the Party, but sadly it won't change a thing, but it is not entirely the fault of individual officials; one might say that it's "the systems" fault and it needs a massive overhaul.

What I mean is that the biggest reason for the immense amount of corruption in China is that government officials are paid next to nothing for their service to the public. So they rely on cars, drivers, kickbacks, bribes and whatever else to make up the difference. And for years, since imperial China, this has been accepted practice. The problem is now that the economy is red hot and these kickbacks are often amounting to millions of US dollars; which just looks bad. Government officials wearing USD 30,000 luxury watches and children at private school in Switzerland are becoming the norm. The regular people, in this developing nation, are pretty feed-up.

The original story is below:

Copywrite: BBC News
Original Link:
By Quentin Sommerville
BBC News, Beijing

In China, the Communist Party has issued a new 52-point ethics code, in an attempt to control growing corruption among officials.

The code bans members from property speculation, money-making deals, and lavish expenditure.

The last set of rules was issued 13 years ago.

Corruption has become an increasingly hot topic among the public - graft often tops the list of issues of most concern for ordinary Chinese citizens.

Party officials should work hard to serve the people and avoid accepting gifts or using their influence to benefit

family members, according to the new ethics code.

The guide bans lavish weddings and funerals, and overseas tours.

Officials should also stay out of profit-making deals, the code says. But few do.

Some of the most senior party officials in China have been on the take - property speculation has been particularly popular.

The richer the country gets the bigger the sums involved.

Spending lavish amounts on government buildings or flash cars is also banned.

In some provinces, party and government headquarters are indistinguishable from plush five star hotels.
The latest luxury sedans are often used to ferry around officials.

China's one-party system has struggled to deal with endemic corruption, much to the annoyance of the general public.

Ryan Pyle

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