Win­ning the peo­ple’s long-term trust

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Zhou Yongkang, one of the most se­nior officials in China to come un­der scru­tiny in mod­ern times, shows the world that the lead­er­ship headed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is de­ter­mined to rid the Party and govern­ment at all lev­els of cor­rupt officials.

Com­ing fast on the heels of the an­nounce­ment a month ago of the ex­pul­sion of Xu Cai­hou, a re­tired top mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, from the Party, the tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Zhou is no co­in­ci­dence. It pro­vides a pow­er­ful ex­am­ple at the same time as it was re­vealed that the Party will fo­cus on the rule of lawin the Oc­to­ber Fourth Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

It in­di­cates that the rule of law and the up­hold­ing of the lawwill be the ba­sis of the anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign. Re­cently it was noted the many officials have also been dis­ci­plined for poor moral be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing adul­tery. This takes the high stan­dards to lev­els be­yond those deemed ac­cept­able in many Western coun­tries, where po­lit­i­cal lead­ers hav­ing af­fairs can add to their at­trac­tive­ness in the eyes of some vot­ers and govern­ment officials’ pri­vate lives are con­sid­ered sep­a­rate from their work.

In­deed more than 30 officials of min­is­ter level and above have been taken down and more are ex­pected to come. Some ob­servers won­der if this will tar­nish the Party’s image and de­prive the coun­try of some very able and ex­pe­ri­enced officials.

In fact even the 30-plus high pro­file cor­rup­tion cases rep­re­sent a very small pro­por­tion of the group of officials that help lead China at na­tional and lo­cal lev­els. And there is plenty of emerg­ing tal­ent that can be given an op­por­tu­nity.

In the short-term, the image of Chi­nese govern­ment and Party officials may be tar­nished by the rev­e­la­tions and, although the gen­eral pub­lic will be pleased to see such strong ac­tion be­ing taken, anger will also be aroused at the ex­tent of cor­rup­tion that is now be­ing re­vealed.

Yet, Pres­i­dent Xi is to be con­grat­u­lated for not let­ting any short-term re­ac­tions de­ter him from his goal of rid­ding the coun­try of cor­rup­tion in govern­ment po­si­tions re­gard­less of how high the of­fi­cial’s po­si­tion – it is the only way that the Party can win the trust of the peo­ple in the longer term. Colin Speak­man is an econ­o­mist and direc­tor of China Pro­grams at CAPA In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, a US-UK or­ga­ni­za­tion that co­op­er­ates with Cap­i­tal Nor­mal Univer­sity and Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies Univer­sity.

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