The Battle Against the Corruption in China

In our media, sometimes there is news that the new Chinese President, Xi Jinping, fights against corruption. The daily reader thinks that this is not significant news. We fight against corruption all the time. The result of this fight is that someone else will steal instead. Later, when the reader continues reading, they will see that in our country people write about this in a tabloid way: How many politicians were executed for corruption in a year; since Mao Zedong times, they overthrew the most important party members; and they found the tons of money-loot of this and that politician; and many similar reports. These kinds of news stories sell well, but why doesn’t anybody write about this sort of struggle that is felt every day on the streets?

As an interpreter, I meet people from all over China, from all social classes. And they tell me stories. Miss Li, who I interpreted for in a consulate sorting out the visa, is from a village in Jiangsu Province. She told me how it was to get a passport during the previous political era. Unless she brought the bribe money, the clerk refused to talk to her. She got the application form to get a passport only after she gave the money to a person who was working there. She says that today the authorities are finally beginning to operate as they should. Nowadays you can sort out the legal things in small towns and villages, which wasn’t possible before.

The owners of the factories told me that they don’t go to the expensive bars and restaurants anymore. The businessmen rarely dare to go; politicians and state officers, who were previously the main clientele, never. Three years ago we used to go to a luxurious restaurant with the owner of a big factory and his friend, a chief of police. Today the police chief doesn’t dare salute the friend on the street, nor return to these restaurants. Only one photograph of him going to a bar, where the cheapest bottle costs 300€, and his career would be over. A businessman doesn’t go there either; he knows that if someone recorded him doing something inappropriate, he would lose a contact that always helped him in times of trouble. The luxurious companies all over China have closed down and gone bankrupt. Bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, massage salons – all of them have either started to concentrate on a higher yet still affordable price range or have closed down. A company where my wife used to work kept losing their business from one day to another. Apart from the home delivery of expensive organic vegetables and meat, they also had different products like huge freshly killed tuna fish imported from Japan, etc. The company had to change the nature of their business, adapt to the new customers. An acquaintance who sells cruises in Europe experienced the same. Before his clientele were overweight tycoons who behaved like the masters of the world. Nowadays, families go on cruises.

Corruption along with the environment, food quality, inequality between the rich and poor – these are the most acute problems in China. China made a commitment—it actually didn’t have a choice—that it will solve these problems. They face a tough fight. However, I think that we shouldn’t criticize China for having a problem. On the contrary, we should respect China for trying to solve this problem. How many politicians went to prison for corruption in our country?