And almost all of the most corrupt countries are developing nations and many of them are in Asia. Among the Top 20 most corrupt states in the world, a half of themare in Asia; Myanmar (Burma), Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan,Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos and Pakistan are all on the list, according to the Worldwide Governance Indicators. And India and China are the two "most corrupt trade nations" among the world's Top 30 exporting countries. Corruption is away of life across Asia. While talking about high-level corruption in Asia's threelargest countries -- India, China and Indonesia -- there is a saying, "In India,corruption is under the table; in China, it is over the table; and in Indonesia,corruption includes the table." Whichever way one may wish to read the proverb,"what remains undeniable," says Chan Akya of Asia Times, "is that corruption ismore firmly rooted in Asian culture than is commonly acknowledged." Take a look at today's China. As John Lee of the Center for Independent Studies inSydney, writes, "While the Chinese state is rich and the Chinese Communist Party powerful, civil society is weak and the vast majority of people remain poor. According to studies by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stealing from the public purse by officials amounts to about 2 percent of GDP each year, and it isrising." Another China corruption watcher, Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), painted an even gloomier picture, "Graft is endemic inChina: according to the most conservative estimates, the magnitude of corruptionranges from 3 percent to 5 percent of annual GDP." A 5 percent of China GDP amounts to approximately $1.5 trillion Yuan ($225 billion in U.S. dollars) or one half of China's GDP annual growth . In today's China, it is no secret that those who have power enjoy countless "fringe benefits." A $500 per plate dinner is done in the nameof official business, a $5,000 overseas trip is made in the name of research or study and a $50,000 government car is purchased for private use only. If China'sauthoritarian one-party state has pushed corruption ahead, India's democratic multi- party system might be worse. As Chan Akya puts it, "Indians do not have a choicewhen it comes to corruption as most of their political parties (with the notableexception of the communists) offer simply varying levels of corruption. The choice istherefore to vote for the communists and risk economic stagnation, or vote for another party and hope that the benefits of growth exceed the cost of corruption." Sothere is some good news for the corrupted Chinese officials or something they could be proud of: On the PERC's Corruption Index, China is not the most corrupt country in the region. China scored 8.33 on a scale of 10 (10 represents the worst possiblescore), Indonesia topped the list with a score of 9.33, with India's 9.3 following closebehind. Even two of America's most important allies in East Asia, South Korea and Taiwan, are not exempt from corruption. Former South Korean president Roh Moohyun committed suicide in late May when he was caught up in corruptioninvestigations. Then in September, in what the media called a "trial of the century,"
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