Corruption in Chinese Society

HML Vancouver Sailing Farm – Li Liming

Corruption is a very significant problem in China, impacting all aspects of administration, law enforcement, healthcare and education. Since the Chinese economic reforms began, corruption has been attributed to “organizational involution” caused by the market liberalization reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping. Since the Tiananmen Square protests, corruption has not slowed as a result of greater economic freedom, but instead has grown more entrenched and severe in its character and scope. Business deals often involve corruption. In popular perception, there are more dishonest CCP officials than honest ones, a reversal of the views held in the first decade of reform of the 1980s. Chinese specialist Minxin Pei argues that failure to contain widespread corruption is among the most serious threats to China’s future economic and political stability. He estimates that bribery, kickbacks, theft, and waste of public funds costs at least three percent of GDP.(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_China).

The term “backdoor” is as ingrained in the bones of China’s culture as are fireworks in the Spring Festival.

This is, of course, a society that has been highly hierarchical and bureaucratic for eons. In that sense, applying some pragmatic wisdom – and having a “backdoor” to get things done – is essential.

And that is why the Chinese spend much of their life creating guanxi — or mutual obligation. They engage in that practice, so that they can rely on it when they need to pull a string, or have a string pulled.

That is the moment when knowing somebody who has a connection that might help is so critical. (excerpt By Kenneth Courtis, August 7, 2014 from The Globalist).

What about the “tofu buildings”?

The term “tofu buildings” originated in China. Tofu buildings are buildings which are so structurally unsound that they are compared to jiggling blocks of soft tofu, which will crumble at the slightest provocation. The term originates in China, where a construction boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a proliferation of such structures. (excerpt by Mary McMahonfrom an article in InfoBloom)

We all know this is when buildings are cheaply built so that everyone from the builders to the building inspectors are given bribe money for themselves, thus creating dangerous situations for people living in these building due to shoddy workmanship. Many structures may be unsound making them unsafe. Often these buildings have problems with plumbing and wiring. They may also be unsafe because they have no way of escape in times of emergencies, such as fire escapes.

My Own Experiences

I was told by many who worked construction that they don’t get paid their wages or the construction company takes a long time to pay them.

Parents told me they had to bribe their child’s teacher so that the teacher would pass the child even when the child had passed. Parents will also bribe the teacher to pass their children when the child has failed.

A young girl came to my class and told me she got her driver’s license and I said, “Congratulations you passed the test.” She said, “No I didn’t pass the test.” I asked, “Then how did you get your driver’s license?” She answered that she paid the driver examiner and got her license. I said, “Then you can’t really drive and now you are a danger to the roads.” She never returned to my class.

There is corruption at the hospitals because doctors are being paid commission for tests and procedures, and so, will order tests and medications you do not need in order to make extra money for themselves. I experienced this when I was supposed to have an x-ray which was 170 yuan, but was ordered an MRI, which was 980 yuan. The MRI was useless. Another doctor told me I should have just had an x-ray, but that was cheaper, of course. My husband was given a prescription from a doctor at the hospital and when we got outside, he threw it away. When I asked him why he threw it away, he said the prescription was unnecessary.

There are people who have paid for their job positions. I had a student who was 22 years old and told me she is a doctor. When I questioned her, she said she was the lowest in her class but that her parents paid 350,000 yuan to buy her a position at the hospital.

Also, another of my own experiences was in trying to bring my cat back to Canada with me was a critical one for me.  At the airport I was given a cell number from the airport inspector to call. This call led to a government worker who I had to meet in a hotel parking lot to pay him to get the papers I needed to bring my cat here. I was told those papers were supposed to be free. I said, I am taking my cat out of China, not into China. He said it didn’t matter. He would not give me the papers unless I gave money. My Chinese friend who came with me was upset because she had not experienced this before and was also upset because I am a foreigner and I knew to bring money, she said. She said, she was ashamed of her country. I told her I didn’t care how much I had to bribe. All I wanted was my cat to come to Canada with me. Which he did and is with me to this day living in Canada.

A student asked me why their society in China was corrupt. I told them your government is your example. Whatever your government is or allows, that is how your society will be.

(The writer of the article is Canadian born, English name Dawn and Chinese name Li Liming. Dawn was married to a Chinese man whose family name is Li and lived in China for 8 years where she taught English.)

Editor: abbs

Posted by: Shuang

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