211. From Honest to Corrupt: An Examination of China’s State Bureaucracy Over Time

June 8, 2021

(Minghui.org) Throughout the dynasties in Chinese history, there were ethical codes that served as guidelines for officials and shielded them from corruption.

In communist China today, however, this has been turned on its head. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has twisted the laws to its advantage, abused power for its officials’ personal gain, and implemented laws to enforce its brutality.

A few anecdotes from ancient China and modern China can shed light on this difference.

An Honest Official from the Song Dynasty

Wine was very popular in the Song Dynasty (960-1270). But officials were not allowed in taverns; otherwise, they could be impeached by the imperial censor. The consequences ranged from censure to demotion or outright removal from office.

Lu Zongdao, a high officer for Emperor Zhenzong in the Song Dynasty, once had a guest at home. He had wanted to offer hospitality to his guest, but he lived simply and didn’t own a set of wine cups fit for company. To entertain his guest, he changed into casual clothing and took his guest to a tavern.

It just so happened that the emperor needed to see him that day for an urgent matter. Lu ended up arriving late after returning from the tavern.

Before announcing Lu, the emperor’s messenger asked Lu what reason he should give the emperor for Lu’s tardiness. Lu instructed the messenger to tell the truth.

“But sir, you’ll have admitted to an act of impropriety,” said the messenger.

“It is only human to drink wine,” replied Lu. “However, to deceive one’s ruler would be an official’s greatest misdeed.”

Upon hearing that Lu had come from a tavern, the emperor grew unhappy and said, “You are an official and could be impeached by the imperial censors.”

After Lu explained the situation, however, the emperor appreciated his honesty and recommended him to high positions.

But not every Chinese official of old was as honest as Lu—and these officials brought about negative consequences for themselves.

For instance, a system of courier stations had existed in China since the Qin Dynasty. Imperial officials, when traveling for business, had access to the courier staff and services for free. By the late Ming Dynasty, however, the system was heavily abused; the majority of the courier station staff were assigned to officials for personal use. This kind of corruption eventually brought about the downfall of the Ming Dynasty.

CCP: A Supersized Bureaucracy

The CCP always tells people to be thankful because their income and benefits come from the Party. The reality is that these monetary rewards come from taxes paid by hardworking citizens and not the CCP. Furthermore, a large portion of these taxes actually go towards supporting a legion of CCP officials.

During the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions in March 2021, one CPPCC representative presented the situation in one county. With a population of 30,200, it has a local fiscal revenue of 36.6 million yuan and a general public budget expenditure of 865 million. There are more than 120 government agencies and organizations with over 6,000 public employees. That means the ratio of officials to the total population is 1:5. The representative suggested that smaller counties should be merged together to reduce administration costs.

According to published data from China’s Third National Population Census in 1982, the ratio of public officials to the total population was 1:7,945 in the Han Dynasty, 1:2,927 in the Tang Dynasty, 1:22,299 in the Ming Dynasty, and 1:911 in the Qing Dynasty.

This imbalance became very serious after the CCP took power. Ren Yuling, former counselor of the State Council, found the ratio of officials to total population had reached 1:26 by 2005. During the CPPCC annual session that year, Ren admitted that the situation was shocking.

Zhang Quanjing, former director of Organization Department (Ministry), said in 2006 that the large number of officials had become a major problem. A province usually has 40 or 50 provincial-level officers and hundreds or thousands of city officials. Even a small county may have dozens of county-level officers.

Furthermore, aside from governors or mayors, each position is accompanied by 8 or 9 deputy officials. All of these officials also have secretaries and aides. Such a gigantic structure not only increased the budget, but also the amount of red tape.

Tip of Iceberg

Needless to say, whether it’s a 1:5 ratio or a 1:26 ratio, these are just the numbers that we can see. There may be hidden costs, indirect expenses, and gray income for these officials that we can’t see. All of these factors contribute to the increasing financial burden on ordinary Chinese citizens.

For example, the CCP does not publicize its expenses used for all of its events and recreation. It doesn’t disclose when and how it uses public funding, government vehicles, or pays for overseas travel. CPPCC representative Liu Guangfu said in March 2006 that the private use of government vehicles cost more than 200 billion yuan (or $30 billion) per year. Liaowang (Outlook), a weekly periodical in Beijing, reported in the same year that the receptions and recreational activities of officials consumed about 370 billion yuan (or $57 billion) in 2004. The China Statistical Year Book published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2000 indicated officials spent 300 billion yuan (or $46 billion) in 1999 alone. These three items add up to over 900 billion yuan (or $139 billion), and that was 10 or 15 years ago.

Lu Xinhua, former spokesperson of the CPPCC, stated that China’s state administrative expenditure is 28% of its GDP, while this expenditure is only 4% or 5% of the GDP in Western countries. This highlights the bloated state apparatus in China.

A large portion of the medical system has been allocated to the apparatchiks.

Nanfang People Weekly had reported in early 2020 on a newly opened building for high officials at the First Bethune Hospital of Jilin University. 257 beds were exclusively reserved for provincial-level, sub-provincial level, or department-level officials in the 56,000-square-meter (or 600,000-square-foot) building. Some rooms are furnished even better than five-star hotels, which led to some netizens calling it “an extravagant hotel hospital.”

Yin Dakui, the former Vice Minister of Health, referenced an article from the Chinese Academy of Sciences once. This article said that 80% of China’s healthcare cost serves 8.5 million CCP officials. Not only that, about two million officials have long-term sick leave, including 400,000 who occupy hospital rooms or vacation homes for a long time. This alone costs tens of billions of yuan per year.

A Modern Version of Animal Farm

The corrupt system of the CCP goes back to the Soviet Union. Soviet poet Felix Chuyev once had 140 interviews with Vyacheslav Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (Prime Minister) of the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1941. He said that high officials had decent salaries, plus other incomes. On top of that, the country pays all their expenses.

This situation is similar to that described by British writer George Orwell in his book Animal Farm. After driving the farmer off of the farm, one pig became the animals’ leader under the slogan “All animals are equal.” As time went on, this pig launched waves of campaigns to purge political enemies or anyone associated with these enemies. In the end, the slogan evolved into “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Needless to say, this book was banned in the Soviet Union and many other communist countries. As mentioned above, it showed how the communists violently took power in the name of “liberating the poor”. Once in power, however, they refused to tolerate any opposing forces.

“The Communist Party’s organizations themselves never participate in productive or creative activities. Once they grasp power, they attach themselves to the people, controlling and manipulating them. They extend their power down to the most basic units of society, for fear of losing control. They monopolize the resources of production and extract wealth from the populace,” as quoted in the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

“In China, the CCP extends itself everywhere and controls everything, but nobody has ever seen the CCP’s accounting records, only the records of the state, local governments, or enterprises,” the book continued, “From the central government down to the village committees in rural areas, municipal officials are always ranked lower than the communist cadres in their strata, so municipal governments must follow instructions from Party committees of the same level. The expenditures of the Party are taken care of by the municipal units and accounted for in the municipal system.”

“The organization of the CCP, like a giant, evil possessing spirit, attaches to every single unit and cell of Chinese society as tightly as a shadow following an object. The CCP’s finest blood-sucking channels penetrate deeply into every capillary and cell of the society, and thus the Party controls and manipulates all of society. This peculiar structure of evil possession has existed previously in human history, either partially or temporarily, but never has it operated for so long and controlled a society so completely as it does under the rule of the Communist Party,” states the book.

History comes and goes, and no regime lasts forever in the end. When more people recognize the CCP’s nature and choose to embrace their own conscience and kindness, the world will change for the better.

https://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2021/6/8/193591.html

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