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corrupt, wherever they may be

found, must be part of this effort.

The military and information
control are key parts of the
Chinese government, and
exposing the rot in these sectors
will understandably shake
public trust. The cases of Gu
Junshan and Guo Zhenxi, for
example, show just how deep
the problem goes. In the
military, especially, corruption
can be deadly. Leaders from
Deng Xiaoping to Jiang
Zemin , Hu Jintao
and now Xi Jinping
have prioritised the
armed forces. They understand
that a corrupt army can be easily
To root out corruption, moral
education plays a part. But the
most effective means is to build
institutions that bring power
under scrutiny. Official
discipline must be enforced
through a system of supervision,
accountability and
Some people have suggested
that while the West relies on the
rule of law to curb corruption,
China should rely on politics.
This is wrong. Corrupt
officials like Chen Xitong
and Chen Liangyu were
clever enough to say the right
things about opposing
corruption, while doing
everything wrong. Su Rong, for
example, even wrote an article
last year demanding stronger
enforcement of party discipline.
Errant officials must have their
knuckles rapped.
o one is off limits in the
governments campaign
against corruption.
CCTV financial news channel
director Guo Zhenxi was
put under investigation late last
month, three months after the
sacking of security vice-minister
Li Dongsheng, who also worked
for the state broadcaster.
In late March, Gu Junshan
, a former deputy
logistics chief of the Peoples
Liberation Army, was indicted
for embezzlement and bribery,
among other charges.
This month, the government
announced that Su Rong ,
vice-chairman of the Chinese
Peoples Political Consultative
Conference, was being
investigated for disciplinary
violations, the most senior
serving official to be investigated
so far. A few days later, the
Central Commission for
Discipline Inspection reported
on its website that Ling Zhengce
, the vice-chairman of
Shanxis political advisory
body, was also under
The fall from grace of one
official after another
demonstrates the governments
determination to net both
tigers and flies.
No organisation or individual
should be untouchable, because
corruption is pervasive. As these
and other cases show, the
malaise has reached into every
nook and cranny in Chinese
society, and collusion between
the corrupt is commonplace.
As long as the oversight of
power remains lax, corruption
will flourish. By coming down
hard on perpetrators, the
government is building up
public confidence in its law
enforcement. It also sends a
warning to other corrupt
The ferocity of the
crackdown under the current
government has been
unprecedented in recent times.
Although supported by most
Chinese, the campaign has its
doubters nonetheless. Some
said cleaning up government is
good, but only up to a point, or
we risk damaging the image of
party and government. Others
have voiced fears that a
sustained crackdown would hurt
economic development.
Yet others have absurdly
suggested that the crackdown
would encourage inaptitude,
because officials who are afraid
of being held responsible for
making a mistake would try to
do as little as possible.
These arguments are all
indefensible. People who argue
thus may have good intentions
but such twisted reasoning can
be easily hijacked and used to
shield the corrupt. To be sure,
revelations of corruption in high
places may for a while lower
some peoples trust in the
government. But corrupt
dealings are a fact, whether or
not they have been exposed.
Allowing them to fester and rot
away Chinas public institutions
is actually the surer way to erode
public confidence.
So the fight against
corruption cannot be half-
hearted. The government must
demonstrate its zero tolerance
for corruption through its
actions. This is the best way to
burnish the leaderships image.
Chinas economic growth is
slowing. No doubt businesses in
the fine dining, hotel and
entertainment industries are
hurting because of the
corruption crackdown. But
should they have flourished to
such a degree in the first place?
Many of these companies thrive
on dirty money; one could argue
that the economy would be
better off without them.
Anti-graft officers should get
even tougher, in fact. When
times were good, the problems
of overcapacity, high debt and
credit risks were easily covered
up by the boom. With the focus
now on belt-tightening and
restructuring, exposing the
problems is the first step
towards solving them.
Its vital for the government
to build a just and fair society to
ensure China meets its
development and reform goals.
And cracking down on the
No one can be above the law in
Chinas anti-corruption campaign
Hu Shuli says Beijing must leave no
stone unturned if it wishes to build
credibility and send a warning to
errant officials to clean up their act
corruption to
fester is the
surer way to
erode public
Thursday, June 26, 2014 A13
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he history books misinform us
that the cold war finished
around 1990. Last month,
Western sanctions on Ukraine
provoked Russian Prime Min-
ister Dmitry Medvedev to compare the
current situation with the cold war era. The
fact that President Vladimir Putin played
down such a comparison should make us
more inclined to see its validity. In reality,
the cold war has never stopped bubbling
up (most obviously on the Korean penin-
sula), and now Russias imperial resur-
gence has set new precedents that Beijing
could seek to emulate.
We tend to think a cold war requires,
specifically, two antagonistic leading
powers, like the US and the USSR in the last
century. However, when George Orwell
coined the term cold war in 1945, he had
three great empires in mind: China
would emerge as the third super state.
The tri-polar nature of the current
world order Russia, China and the US
(plus its glued-on allies) includes some
cold war hallmarks yet also adds one or
two new motifs. We still have economic
sanctions, the retaliatory expulsion of
diplomats (such as by the US in response
to Russian interference in Ukraine) and
perilously close fly-bys (Chinese fighter
jets buzzing up to Japanese reconnais-
sance aircraft) akin to those between the
US and USSR in the cold war movie, Top
Gun. What is new is the development of
cyberspying, aptly topped off with the
triangulated defection of Edward Snow-
den. Now the most widely known spy in
history excluding James Bond Snow-
den turned traitor on the US government
and, before defecting to Russia, he fled first
to China (he would not have chosen Hong
Kong were it not in the Peoples Republic).
Spying may be more of a desk job than
it once was, but the fact you can spy from
home, thousands of miles from danger,
encourages more espionage than could
have possibly occurred during the cold
war. The US has accused China and Russia
of cyberspying but of course all three are
at it in abundance, which is only natural in
the circumstances. The rise of communist
China threatens US hegemony, and Rus-
sias authoritarian democracy presents an
alternative model to any so-called consen-
sus Washingtons or Beijings.
The current Sino-Russian entente,
from the recent gas deal, their common
stance over Syria and friendly relations
with Iran, through to Beijings willingness
to overlook Moscows contravention in
Ukraine of the core principle upon which
Chinese foreign policy is based that of
noninterference echoes the cold war, or
at least its early phase. When China
became the USSRs communist kid broth-
er in 1949, it admired its elder siblings
bravery and bravado and disregarded its
indiscretions. The brothers later drifted
apart. Yet, before China came of age in the
1990s, the USSRs nervous breakdown
(1989-91) was a shocking familial embar-
But now the Russian although not, as
some commentators allude to, the Soviet
empire is striking back. Dont be fooled by
media suggestions of a rapprochement
with Ukraine by Putin: he is the consum-
mate realist leader, adept at the zero-sum
game, the rules of which together with his
own KGB career were forged during the
cold war era.
Moscows boldness and its desire to
draw closer to Beijing as an ally can only
embolden China in its quest to restore its
own place in the world, including in the
East and South China Seas. Russia sets the
example on how to obtain territorial objec-
tives. In early March, Western media wide-
ly reported that Putin had no intention of
annexing Crimea. For example, regarding
the then forthcoming referendum, The
Independent newspaper in the UK stated
that greater autonomy and indepen-
dence may both be on the ballot paper. But
not reunification with Russia. Two weeks
later, knowing neither Ukraine nor Nato
would retaliate with force, Putin annexed
the gas- and oil-rich Crimean peninsula.
Putin had achieved his primary objective,
and China was left wondering why its own
territorial claims seem so intractable.
In the old cold war, public allegiance
was more clearly defined, at least on the
Wests side of the fence. If you were North
American or Western European, for
instance, in general, your allegiance to the
US may have reasonably been assumed.
Today, there are more obvious signs of
dissension within the West. For example,
many Americans and many more Euro-
peans see Snowden as a heroic figure for
acting against the megalomaniac US
And throughout Europe including in
former Soviet-controlled nations such as
Hungary nationalist politicians, whose
standing rose in the recent European
Union elections, profess sincere admira-
tion for Putin. Interestingly, Putins fan
base also includes a growing band of US
Republicans, and, of course, many citizens
and leaders in China.
So its a paradoxical neo-cold-war
world. Theres far less fear that this cold
war will turn nuclear, but no fear disputes
whether in east Europe or East Asia will
resolve themselves without the use of
aggressive cold war tactics. Is China cur-
rently just warming up?
Paul Letters is a political commentator
and writer. See
Moscows boldness
can only embolden
China in its quest
to restore its own
place in the world
Paul Letters looks at todays tri-polar global
order and finds the claims of extensive spying,
economic sanctions, diplomatic expulsions
and provocative fly-bys all rather familiar
Cold war redux
aw and politics are not supposed to mix, but it is
often difficult to separate one from the other.
Over the years, Hong Kongs legal community
has played an important role in defending the rule of
law and, in doing so, commenting on politically
sensitive issues.
Tomorrow, some members of the profession will
take part in a rare protest march, the third of its kind
since the handover. This time, the march is in
support of judicial independence in light of the
central governments recent white paper on Hong
Kong. The document raised concerns by classifying
judges as administrators with a basic political
requirement to love the country.
The protest gives lawyers a chance to signal their
support for the independence of our judges, a
hallmark of the one country, two systems concept.
It will be attended by barristers and solicitors, but
their respective professional organisations have
reacted very differently to the controversy.
The Bar Association, representing barristers,
responded swiftly and sharply to the white paper,
issuing a strong statement defending the rule of law
and judicial independence. In contrast, Ambrose
Lam San-keung, president of the Law Society,
representing solicitors, said he saw the white paper as
apositive document that reaffirmed the judiciarys
independence. His comments have, not surprisingly,
sparked a backlash by some solicitors and Lam is now
facing a no-confidence motion.
It is not the first time the two bodies have differed.
When the Law Society issued a paper on legal aspects
of the universal suffrage debate, Lam refused to
comment on questions such as whether the public
could recommend candidates for election or whether
there should be a cap on the number of candidates,
saying he did not want to be drawn into a political
wrestling match. (The Bar had stated there was no
legal impediment to public recommendation.)
Concerns about commenting on political issues
have not, however, prevented Lam from condemning
the Occupy Central movement, calling on the US to
reveal its snooping operations in Hong Kong, or
speaking out on Sino-Vietnamese tensions.
There is a perception that solicitors, many of
whom work for law firms doing business on the
mainland, are reluctant to say anything that might
offend the central government, while barristers are
more willing to speak out.
But it is dangerous to generalise, as the reaction of
some solicitors to Lams comments on the white
paper shows. Not all barristers support the Bar
Associations often outspoken stance and not all
solicitors agree with the position adopted by the Law
Society. I doubt, however, that any would disagree
with supporting the rule of law and the independence
of the judiciary.
The Bar and Law Society can make a valuable
contribution to public debates on sensitive issues that
touch on the law. Their expertise and perceived
objectivity means their views can carry great weight.
They should speak out in defence of our legal system
when it appears to be under threat.
After all, if lawyers are not going to stand up for the
rule of law, who will?
Cliff Buddle is the Posts editor, special projects
Vital defence
Cliff Buddle says the legal
community must continue
to speak out on sensitive
issues, such as the white
paper, to help protect the rule of law
hen the Jakarta police
entered a toy
warehouse in April,
they were not shopping for their
children. In what was the
countrys biggest drug bust of
the past two years, 90kg of
high-purity crystal
methamphetamine was
uncovered. The investigation
implicated an organised crime
ring stretching from Hong Kong
to Malaysia and Indonesia.
At around the same time,
Malaysian authorities arrested a
group of Iranians for trafficking
22kg of crystal meth into the
country; and just lately, Thailand
discovered 600,000 speed pills
produced in Myanmar and
smuggled across the border by a
major criminal network.
While these operations
provide yet more evidence of the
threat of organised crime
networks operating in Asia, none
is as illuminating as a recent
drug seizure in Boshe village in
Guangdong. In a single
operation five months ago,
Chinese officers raided a drug
lab containing over three tonnes
of crystal meth and arrested 182
people, including senior village
leaders. Linked to numerous
trafficking networks across the
region, the drugs in the lab were
worth millions of dollars.
Amazing as it may seem, this
remarkably large operation in
Guangdong is only the tip of the
iceberg. The money generated
by transnational organised
crime in East Asia has recently
been estimated very
conservatively to reach a
staggering US$90 billion per
year. While this includes money
generated from crime such as
the trade in counterfeit goods
and fraudulent medicines, illegal
wood products and protected
species, and the trafficking of
men, women and children, the
value of the drug economy
constitutes the largest amount,
at about US$32 billion a year.
Some drugs like heroin can
be traced back to a specific
geographic location near the
Mekong River, in what is
traditionally known as the
Golden Triangle, while other
synthetic drugs are now
manufactured in almost every
country in Asia. Law
enforcement struggles to protect
long and porous borders in the
region. As regional integration
accelerates in the coming years,
the movement of people, goods
and money will increase and so
too will the challenges.
The power of illegal money
flows that are larger than the size
of some national economies can
hardly be overstated. Not
surprisingly, this money is used
to bribe officials, perpetuating
and expanding corruption
throughout the region.
Adding to the problem, weak
enforcement of laws deters
foreign investment and
undermines domestic
businesses confronted with
unfair competition from those
that break the law with
impunity. The human impact is
even more worrisome, as the
trade and consumption of drugs
rip families apart, overwhelm
criminal justice systems and
create significant health risks.
Efforts to integrate the region
are admirable and should be
supported. But while the
positive effects of these
developments on economic
growth are well known, the
flipside of how criminal
networks will benefit is often not
given enough attention. Such
networks not only transcend
borders but take advantage of
their weaknesses.
Failure to seriously address
the problem of transnational
organised crime and trafficking
risks undermining the many
benefits of regional integration.
An ambitious shared agenda
and joint approach is crucial to
confront this growing challenge.
By opening up to sustained
cooperation and effective
regional coordination, Asia may
just live up to its promise as a
leading region in the 21st
Jeremy Douglas is the regional
representative for the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
in Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Asias more open borders
must stay closed to criminals
Jeremy Douglas warns of drug syndicates profiting from integration
The power of
illegal money
flows larger
than national
economies cant
be overstated
This article is provided
by Caixin Media, and
the Chinese version of
it was first published in
Century Weekly