Prof. Zheng Yongnian Fighting Corruption and China’s Second Political Revolution

Interesting article on China’s current anti-corruption campaign and what it all means by Zheng Yongnian. Zheng was born in Zhejiang, graduated from Beijing University, got a PhD in political science from Princeton and now teaches at Singapore National University. Wiki bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_Yongnian

郑永年:反腐败与中国第二次政治革命

By Zheng Yongnian Fighting Corruption and China’s Second Political Revolution

— Singapore National University, East Asian Institute Chair

博主:朱民志  发表时间:2014-08-12 13:01:49

http://baijiaxuan.bokerb.com/blog.php?do=blog&event=view&ids=566439

Corruption in China has now reached a scale that threatens the survival of both the Chinese Communist Party and the PRC state. People always talk about building institutions yet corruption is a product of institutions. Corruption is thus the result of the operation of current institutions – economic, political and administrative. If anti-corruption institutions are not in place, corruption cannot be stopped effectively, much less rooted out. In this sense, all countries will take an institutional approach to punishing corruption, preventing corruption, and establishing an honest government.

Yet China has been building institutions to fight corruption since the opening and reform policy began in 1978. China may well have more and larger scale systems to fight corruption than any other country. Every generation of Chinese Communist Party leadership and every PRC government have increased the number of institutions and mechanisms to fight corruption. So we need to the relation between anti-corruption campaigns and institution building and not simply expect the system to solve the problem of corruption.

In the overall strategy in China’s current anti-corruption campaign – first treat the symptoms and only then cure the disease — makes a great deal of political sense. In fact, corruption has become so serious that curing the disease would be difficult without treating the symptoms first. Every system is built by people and operated by people. Any institution, if it is built by corrupt people or operated by corrupt people, will turn a system that theoretically is well-designed to prevent corruption into a corrupt system. Since the 1980s, China has established many systems to fight corruption but many of the people who run these systems, and indeed the people fighting corruption, are corrupt themselves. Corruption flourishes as a result.

Looking at the problem from this perspective, we should not underestimate the effectiveness of anti-corruption campaigns. Where corruption runs deep, anti-corruption campaigns can help to create a better political situation. Only in an improved political situation will it be possible to build a system that can effectively fight and prevent corruption. The process would run like this: first run a campaign to clean up some particularly egregious corruption and create a good environment for institution building, then create a system and put mechanisms in place for opposing and preventing corruption that meets the needs of the day. Finally, use the institutions and mechanisms to guarantee honesty in government.

Corruption in China’s Communist Party Runs from the Top to the Bottom

Naturally the anti-corruption campaign should not be presented as just a political campaign. The current anti-corruption campaign, although it appears to resemble the anti-corruption campaigns of the past, has already broken the mold in at least three ways. First, this anti-corruption campaign is not a populist mass movement. In fact, the space allowed for a mass inspired bottom-up anti-corruption campaign through the Internet has been tightened very greatly. This is particularly evident when we reflect how in past years Chinese people spontaneously created anti-corruption by agitation on the internet. That had become almost the predominant type of anti-corruption campaign. But no more.

The present anti-corruption campaign, however, is a top-down anti-corruption campaign conducted within the Chinese Communist Party. Although enterprises are sometimes involved in specific cases, this campaign is aimed at Communist Party and government officials, and particularly at high-ranking officials. The concept of the anti-corruption campaign itself is not problematical; the issue is whether the campaign is conducted according to the law. Democratic countries also have anti-corruption campaigns. This campaign has tended to be put on a legal basis more than previous anti-corruption campaigns. In any institutional environment, corruption will tend to accumulate and so a campaign will be needed to clean things up. The format of the anti-corruption campaign does not necessarily conflict with rule by law as long as the anti-corruption campaign is conducted in the spirit of rule by law.

Building institutions to fight and prevent corruption is important. To judge by formal structures and their numbers, China has already has these. However, there is much room for improvement, particularly in the effectiveness and authoritativeness of these institutions. First of all, China has too many institutions for fighting and preventing corruption. The problem is that its internal mechanism is too diverse and scattered. The corruption prevention and fighting system is not an integrated whole and lacks coordination. Political responsibility is not defined clearly. The various institutions checkmate one another and shirk responsibility so that is a great deal of waste. This leaves a lot of space that creates opportunities for corrupt elements.

Up to the present, anti-corruption institutions have lacked authority. This has been a serious weakness since these campaigns were in the form of the ‘right hand fights corruption of the left hand’ and the ‘left hand prevents corruption in the right hand’. The same level of Party Committee or government would both be leading and be the object of anti-corruption campaigns. They would be in charge of preventing and fighting their own corruption. This kind of system design is bound to fail. A situation in which each level of Party Committee leads its own anti-corruption campaign creates a situation in which the Party Committee itself is the root of corruption. Allowing each level of Communist Party Committee to guide its own anti-corruption work is creating a situation like the old saying of the robbers who clumsily defend themselves by saying “The 300 taels of silver aren’t buried here!”

These two improvements – authority and higher levels inspect lower levels – have made the anti-corruption campaigns conducted since the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party more vigorous and more effective than previous campaigns. First, the old problem that nobody is in charge of the anti-corruption campaign has been resolved. Now everyone in China knows who is in charge of anti-corruption work and to whom corruption should be reported. Moreover, this campaign has strengthened the authority of the Central Disciplinary and Inspection Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Today, we can see that that subordinate organizations of the Central Disciplinary Commission have been placed in anti-corruption organizations. Central Disciplinary and Inspection Commission personnel dispatched to all levels of the leading departments and commissions of the Central Committee and central government are in charge of anti-corruption work. Unlike in the past, the leading Party and government departments and commissions are no longer in charge of fighting their own corruption.

The system being implemented now is “manage the next lower level”. That is, anti-corruption work at the provincial level is being carried out by the Disciplinary and Inspection Commission of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. This breaks with the old system in which each provincial committee did its own anti-corruption work. If it hadn’t been for these two changes in the system, it would be hard to imagine how officials at each level from the flies to the tigers could be investigated. After this anti-corruption campaign is over, these innovations need to be institutionalized and strengthened.

Even if these reforms should succeed, we should not overly idealize the importance of institutionalizing corruption prevention and anti-corruption work. We can’t pin all our hopes on it. International experience shows that honesty in government requires not just effective institutions and mechanisms for preventing and fighting corruption but also that they work together well. They also need to coordinate with other economic, social, administrative institutions and arrangements. How can China today, make all these institutions be made to work harmoniously together to fight corruption? This is a big systems engineering problem. Here we can only touch on a few aspects of it.

The reform of the economic system means eliminating the institutional foundations of the economic oligarchs. The third session of the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party made “marketization” the goal of enterprise reform. Marketization means that enterprises operations will be transparent and open. Under the 1990s policy of “keeping the big state enterprises and selling off the smaller ones” big groups of state owned enterprises were organized. This was the correct policy direction but marketization was not achieved. The result has been that today these state-owned enterprises have turned into the family businesses of high officials. These businesses operate in a highly monopolistic fashion. They are very closed in both hiring and promotions.

The Closed Networks of State Enterprises

Take any Chinese state enterprise. You will easily discover that its management layers from top to bottom are filled with the relatives and friends of officials. An ordinary person, even if they are extraordinarily talented, has a hard time penetrating the networks of the state enterprises. The barriers between social classes in Chinese society are getting harder to penetrate. The closed nature of state enterprises is one reason for this. If the family business nature of state enterprises does not change, it will be very hard to make it more open.

In the economic realm, establishing a budgeting system is equally important for fighting corruption and promoting honesty in government. In recent years, establishing a budget system has been the precondition for any country to promote honesty in government. The budget is the blood of the government system. If you can control the blood flow, then you will be able to prevent and fight corruption. Therefore government needs to prove how every penny is spent. This makes it easy to understand why accounting, auditing and other work involving quantitative measures are among the most important professions in any developed country. From this perspective, today’s China has not yet developed a budgeting system in the modern sense.

In China, the so-called budget mostly is an indication of how fiscal resources have been politically and administratively allocated. In other words, how political and administrative power are used to get budget resources. The methods of allocating and actually distributing resources are not transparent. A Chinese leader can have astronomical budgetary resources at his disposal to an extent that is unimaginable in other modern countries. China has never developed a modern auditing system and so control of budgetary resources is done by political means. In the absence of a modern budget system, even the biggest anti-corruption campaign cannot be effective.

Reducing and controlling the power of officials is the way forward in administrative reform. “We need to confine power to a box”. If officials have too much power, it will be very hard to make a box for it. Even more important are reducing the official powers and the scope of authority of government officials. This means that government must delegate to lower levels the authority to make administrative approvals. Authority should be delegated to enterprises and to people in society. If much power is delegated to enterprises and people in society, that it will be much easier to put the authority of the government in a box.

Reforming society is just as important. Corruption is often the result of abuse of official power, seeking rents from power, or seeking special privileges. The various privileges that officials have in various fields need to be curtailed and controlled. But this no magic bullet. The experience of many countries shows that the socialization of “special privileges” is very important. Every citizen, including officials, should enjoy a good social security system. If not, official will constantly scheme to get special privileges for which they can collect rents. Civil servants need earn a rate of pay that can assure them a decent standard of living. If they don’t earn decent pay, then that will affect their motivation to do their jobs and make them create “hidden rules” that will enable them to extract rents in exchange for power.

This moment in China’s current political ecology now is an historic opportunity to fight corruption. It is also an historic opportunity to establish a system to prevent and to fight corruption. This is not merely because corruption has reached a serious extent but also because now a new generation of leaders is taking charge. If this new generation of leaders can fight corruption, there is no guarantee that the succeeding generation will do so as well. There is no excuse for the present generation of leaders to shirk their responsibilities.

Most important off all, Chinese politics is now at a turning point. If the current corrupt political ecology does not change, three kinds of bad consequences could result.

• First, the regime could gradually turn into a right-wing dictatorship as economic oligarchs become political oligarchs.
• Second, the regime could gradually turn to populism as it loses its basic legitimacy, the people rise up in revolt and a new revolutionary regime is created.
• Third, the regime could change into right wing populism as the political oligarchs and the economic oligarchs join forces just as they have in Ukraine today – one oligarch, one party, multiple political parties mobilizing their supporters in vicious fighting.

Naturally, different historical circumstances will produce different results or even a vicious cycle running through each of these possibilities.

Fighting corruption remains a long-term task. China needs to seize its opportunity to conduct a large scale and continuing anti-corruption movement and to build a new system of institutions that will prevent and fight corruption. If China succeeds, people will call it “China’s second political revolution”.

The author is the chair of the Singapore National University’s East Asian Institute
August 12, 2014 United Morning News

2014年08月12日联合早报网


 

http://baijiaxuan.bokerb.com/blog.php?do=blog&event=view&ids=566439

郑永年:反腐败与中国第二次政治革命

博主:朱民志  发表时间:2014-08-12 13:01:49

中国的腐败已经发展到亡党亡国的程度。怎么办?人们指向制度建设。腐败是制度的产物。首先,腐败是现存制度运作的结果,包括经济、行政和政治体制在内的很多制度。其次,反腐败的制度不作为,不能有效遏止腐败,更不用说是根除腐败了。正是在这个意义上,所有国家都会从制度入手来惩治腐败和预防腐败,确立清廉政府。

但是,对反腐败的制度建设的考量不能过于简单。中国自改革开放以来,并非没有制度建设。论反腐败制度的规模和数量,中国可能比任何国家都要大、要多。每一代领导人、每一届政府都会增加一些制度和机制。这里就需要比较现实地理解反腐败运动和制度建设之间的关系,而不是简单地企求制度来解决所有腐败的问题。

这次反腐败的总体策略是先治标,后治本,这有很大的政治理性。从实际情况看,腐败已经发展到不治标就难以治本的地步。首先需要治标,就是要为反腐败制度的确立,营造一个良好的政治生态环境。任何制度都是由人来建立的,也是由人来运作的。任何一项制度如果让腐败者来建立,让腐败者来操作,理论上最健全的制度也会演变成腐败的制度。从80年代到今天,中国建立了那么多反腐败制度机制,但占据这些制度的人或者反腐败者本身,往往也很腐败。结果,腐败仍然大行其道。

从这个角度看,不能低估运动式反腐败的作用,通过荡涤大面积的深度腐败局面,造就一种较好的政治生态。只有在一种比较好的政治生态之下,才能确立有效的反腐败和预防腐败的制度。这里的过程是:用运动来清除大面积的腐败,确立良好的制度建设环境;确立一套符合时代需要的反腐败和预防腐败制度机制;用制度机制来保障清廉政府。

党内自上而下反腐败

当然,反腐败运动本身并不能表现为仅仅是政治运动。这次反腐败尽管表现出运动形式,但已经超越以往传统的政治运动形式。至少表现为三个方面。第一,反腐败并没有表现为民粹主义式的群众运动。实际上,从一定程度看,自下而上的群众反腐败空间已经有很大的收缩,这尤其表现在通过互联网的社会反腐败。在过去很多年里,老百姓通过互联网工具的自发反腐败运动,曾经扮演了很重要的角色,几乎有成为主体的趋势。

但这次反腐败的主体,乃是自上而下的党内反腐败运动。其次,在各类腐败案例中,尽管企业界也卷入其中,但除了少数案例,这次反腐败的对象主体是党政官员,尤其是高级官员。再次,这次反腐败运动已经倾向于在法治基础之上。反腐败的运动性质本身并没有可以质疑的,问题在于这样的运动是否有法律的基础。即使在民主国家,反腐败也往往体现为运动式的。不管在怎样的制度环境下,腐败积累久了,就需要用运动来加以整治。运动式的反腐败和法治也并没有必然的矛盾,只要反腐败运动是基于法治精神基础之上。

反腐败和预防腐败的制度建设很重要,从形式和数量上看,中国都已经具备了,但仍存在着巨大的改进空间,主要是制度的有效性和权威性。首先,中国之前反腐败和预防腐败的制度数量过多,也就是内部制度过分多元化和分散化,制度机制之间缺少整合和协调,没有确立起政治责任制。各机构之间互相制约、推卸责任,在造成了巨大的制度浪费的同时,为腐败分子创造了很多机会。

就反腐败和预防腐败制度的权威性来说,直到这次反腐败运动,基本上不存在制度的权威性。例如,制度机制都表现为“左手反右手”、“左手预防右手”的形式,同一级党委和政府,自己负责自己的反腐败和预防腐败。这种设计必然导致制度失效。让各级党委来主导自己的反腐败,就会造成这个党委本身是腐败的制度根源,让各级党委来主导自己的预防腐败,就会造成“此地无银三百两”的情形。

中共十八大以来的反腐败之所以比历次运动有效、有力,主要是因为这两方面的改进。首先是这次反腐败主要是由中纪委来主导,中纪委成为唯一的反腐败运动权力中心,改变了原来无人负责的情形。现在全国的老百姓都知道谁在负责反腐败,发现了腐败应当找谁去。其次,这个设置也确立了中纪委的权威。从横向看,中纪委派驻反腐败机构和人员进驻中央各领导部门和部委,而不是像从前那样,各领导部门和部委自己的腐败自己反。

从纵向看,现在实行的是“下管一级”制度,就是省一级的反腐败运动直接由中纪委来进行,也改变了以往省委自己的腐败自己反的局面。如果没有这两方面的制度变化,很难想象能够查处从“苍蝇”到国家领导人级别的“大老虎”的各级官员。可以预见,在这次大规模的反腐败运动过后,这些有效的制度会更加制度化,得到巩固。

即使是这样,也不应当把反腐败和预防腐败的制度过于理想化,把所有的希望寄托在制度上,使其不堪重负。国际经验表明,一个清廉的政府不仅需要有效的反腐败和预防腐败制度机制,更需要经济、社会、行政体制等多方面的配合和协调。就目前的中国来说,其他的体制如何能够配合反腐败呢?这是一个复杂和系统的工程,这里只能涉及到几个基本面。

经济体制改革就是要消除经济寡头的制度基础。中共十八届三中全会把“市场化”确定为企业改革的目标,就是这个方向。市场化就是企业运作的公开透明和开放性。就国有企业来说,90年代的“抓大放小”组建了诸多大型的国有企业集团,这个方向是对的,但市场化并没有到位。发展到今天,国有企业已经俨然成为高官家族的企业,其经营方式具有高度的垄断性,其录用人才的方式具有高度的封闭性。

难以进入的国企关系网

任意拿出一个国有企业集团,不难发现自上到下的管理层,都是官员的亲戚朋友,一般社会成员,即使是最好的人才,也难以进入国企的关系网。中国社会阶层现在变得越来越具有排他性,国有企业的封闭性是一个重要因素。国有企业集团的家族性不改变,很难促成它们的开放性。

在经济领域,预算制度的确立也同样重要,对反腐败和建立清廉政府,具有其他制度不可替代的作用。近代以来,预算制度的确立是所有国家建立清廉政府的制度前提。预算是政府体制运作的血液,控制了血液,就能预防和控制腐败。所以,政府需要论证每一分钱、每一毛钱、每一元钱的用途。很容易理解为什么会计和审计等计算事业,是发达国家最重要的几个职业。从这个角度来看,今天的中国还没有近代意义上的预算制度。

在中国,所谓的预算更多的是表现为对财政资源的政治和行政分配,或者用政治和行政权力来获取预算资源,并且分配和获取的方式也不公开透明。中国的一个领导人可以接触到天文数字的预算资源,这种情况在其他现代国家难以想象。中国始终没有发展出近代会计和审计制度,控制仍然倾向于使用政治手段。在没有现代预算制度的情况下,最大的反腐败运动也会是无效的。

就行政体制改革来说,就是要减少和控制官员的权力。“要把权力关在笼子里”,但如果官员手中掌握着太多的权力,这个笼子很难做。更为重要的是要减少权力,限定政府官员的权力范围。这就要求政府要大力下放行政审批权,把权力下放到企业和社会中去。把权力放到企业和社会中去的时候,政府本身的权力笼子就比较好做了。

社会改革也同样重要。腐败往往是滥用公权力、权力寻租和追求特权所致。因此要减少和控制官员在各个领域的各种特权,包括社会保障、医疗、住房、教育等等。现在公车改革已经开始,但必须逐渐延伸到其他各个领域,但不可以过于理想化。各国经验表明,“特权”的社会化非常重要,也就是要建立所有公民,包括官员在内都能享受的良好社会保障体系。如果没有,官员照样会千方百计地去搞权力寻租。公务员也必须拥有能够过体面生活的工资水平。公务员没有体面的工资水平,既会影响到他们的工作动力,更为促成他们通过“潜规则”来做权力寻租。

从中国现实的政治生态看,现在是反腐败的一个历史机遇,也是确立反腐败和预防腐败制度的一个历史机遇。这不仅是因为腐败已经演变到那么严峻的状态,更是因为领导层代际变化的原因。这一代领导层能够反腐败,不见得下一代领导人也能够这样做。现任领导层没有任何推卸责任的道理。

更为重要的是,中国的政治正处于一个转型之际,如果现在的腐败政治生态得不到改变,就可能出现三种恶劣的情形。第一,政权逐渐演变成右派专制统治,即经济寡头顺利地转型成为政治寡头。第二,政权逐渐演变成民粹主义,即政权失去基本的合法性,老百姓起来造反,再次出现革命性的政权。第三,政权演变成右派民粹主义,即寡头政治和社会力量结合起来,类似于今天的乌克兰的情形,一个寡头,一个政党,各政党鼓动自己的支持力量,互相恶斗。当然,在不同历史时期,也会出现这三者恶性循环的状态。

反腐败依然任重而道远。中国需要以大规模、持续的反腐败运动为契机,确立新的反腐败和预防腐败的制度体系。如果成功了,人们可以称之为中国的“第二次政治革命”。

作者是新加坡国大东亚所所长

2014年08月12日联合早报网

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