Deep­en­ing re­form to curb vested in­ter­ests

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Plun­der­bund, what a great word, it brings to mind im­ages of pirates swash­buck­ling their way ashore to take what­ever they can — al­though that might be just me; too much pop­corn es­capism and a love of the sea.

The word does re­fer to scur­rilous thieves, though, only the real deal rather than Dis­ney’s cel­lu­loid he­roes, since the def­i­ni­tion of plun­der­bund is a “league of com­mer­cial, po­lit­i­cal or fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests that ex­ploits the public”.

Such leagues of thieves steal a lot, and do so to the same end and with the same wish as those who steal a lit­tle. And by hand­ing out boun­ties and ben­e­fits to their ac­com­plices and fa­cil­i­ta­tors, their ma­lign in­flu­ence spreads as a can­cer of com­plic­ity.

This, of course, is not some­thing unique to China. The sub-prime cri­sis in the United States that sparked the global fi­nan­cial melt­down, the con­se­quences of which we are all still mired in, was fun­da­men­tally the re­sult of com­mer­cial, po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests ex­ploit­ing the public.

How­ever, China’s lead­er­ship is demon­strat­ing its re­solve to fight those in the coun­try who abuse their power and priv­i­lege, since it is fully aware that such ac­tions per­pet­u­ate and ex­ac­er­bate the im­bal­ance be­tween the rich and poor that is the fa­tal ail­ment for any repub­lic.

Hence, the un­prece­dented anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign and the move to­ward greater so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity be­ing de­fined by law, which has re­sulted in grow­ing ex­pec­ta­tions that gov­er­nance in the coun­try will be “ef­fi­cient and ob­serve the law, while be­ing free of cor­rup­tion”, as core leader Xi Jin­ping has stressed it should be.

And with this has come the an­tic­i­pa­tion that the gov­ern­ment will up­hold its re­spon­si­bil­ity for the well-be­ing of those without money and con­nec­tions.

This by its very na­ture en­tails a fu­ture loss for such plun­der­bunds. Hence, the ob­du­rate re­sis­tance to re­forms, which the coun­try’s lead­er­ship ad­mits has been greater than an­tic­i­pated.

While the anti-cor­rup­tion drive, the longest and most sys­tem­atic in Chi­nese his­tory, has changed the way public of­fi­cials do busi­ness, the real bat­tle the lead­er­ship is en­gaged in is abol­ish­ing pre­vi­ously es­tab­lished priv­i­leges and trad­ing mo­nop­o­lies.

It is a fight that is prov­ing a lot harder, but one that the lead­er­ship has shown — most re­cently at the Sixth Plenum of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China — it is re­solved to win.

To re­move the can­cer of com­plic­ity and over­come the re­sis­tance of vested in­ter­ests to the deep-wa­ter re­forms that will “in­vig­o­rate the econ­omy, pro­mote so­cial jus­tice, and give or­di­nary peo­ple a greater sense of gain”, con­stant pres­sure is be­ing ap­plied through the per­sis­tent anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign and the steady drip of re­forms.

Hun­dreds of re­form mea­sures have been drawn up dur­ing the course of the 30 meet­ings of the Cen­tral Lead­ing Group for Deep­en­ing Over­all Re­form since it was in­tro­duced in De­cem­ber 2013.

As Xi has em­pha­sized on many oc­ca­sions when stress­ing the need to con­tinue with re­form and es­tab­lish the rule of law, these are the key to China’s fu­ture.

For the trou­ble with plun­der­bunds is even when they have enough, usu­ally more than enough, still they yearn for more, which as Xi cau­tioned way back in 2008, presages dis­as­ter.

“The big­gest sin re­sults from in­sa­tia­bil­ity and the big­gest dis­as­ter orig­i­nates from end­less de­sires,” he warned, quot­ing the words of the Spring and Au­tumn Pe­riod (770-476 BC) philoso­pher Laotzu.

The au­thor is a se­nior ed­i­tor with China Daily.

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