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Sugar coated bullets: Corruption and the new economic order in China

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The recent political debate concerning the influence of corruption on the “new economic order” in the People's Republic of China is unique not only for its detailed and public manifestations, but also because it works around the acceptance of some degree of corporate private ownership of the means of production within China. The concern for corruption in Chinese government and commerce is not, of itself, novel.

We prefer in this paper briefly to focus on the economic and political environment from within which this concern has been generated, to comment on the significance for the Government of the PRC in associating the pall of corruption with the undermining of more capitalist economic reform, and then to examine how the legal definitions and controls on corruption have been transformed to complement a new political agenda. Associated with this, it has been necessary to advance some rather tentative predictions concerning the development of new anti-corruption initiatives in the PRC, their justifications, and pressures on the economic transition which is said to be corruption generative.

Speculation about the future face of economic corruption in China is of limited value when one is interested in questions of regulation and control. As the definition, indication and interpretation of corruption is a political process which may pay little regard to realistic indicators, so too the creation of control initiatives may not be dependent on predictions of actual developments in graft. We have endeavoured to show that recent regulatory programmes in the PRC themselves indicate much about the commercial contradictions that underly the new economic order, as well as evidencing the socio-legal dilemmas inherent in anti-corruption official discourse.

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Findlay, M., Chor-Wing, T.C. Sugar coated bullets: Corruption and the new economic order in China. Contemporary Crises 13, 145–161 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00729634

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  • Chinese Government
  • Economic Reform
  • Economic Transition
  • Political Agenda
  • Private Ownership