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Corruption Legislation and Socio-Economic Change in the People's Republic of China

NCJ Number
Journal of Financial Crime Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: November 1996 Pages: 116-128
M Levi; F Ruan
Date Published
13 pages
After reviewing the prevalence of public corruption in the People's Republic of China, this article traces the history of Chinese criminal law against corruption and outlines key features of legislation and policy pertinent to corruption.
The paper first notes China's reputation, justified or not, for corruption; in a recent Transparency International survey, it was listed by U.S. and European business people as one of the three most corrupt countries in Asia. A Chinese national survey revealed that Chinese citizens regard corruption as the most serious problem after inflation. The history of Chinese criminal law on corruption is divided into three period: the early period before economic reform (1950-1980), the period of early economic reform (1980s), and the later periods of economic reform (1990s). The criminalization of corruption in the private sector is also examined. The law against corruption has changed from the ordinance in the 1950s that regulated a compound of the criminal and administrative offenses to separate laws that provided independently for criminal offenses or administrative misconduct in the 1980s this trend of division of regulation started in the criminal law in 1979, and both jurists and practitioners view this as the correct direction for the development of criminal law. Compared with the offense of theft, punishment for embezzlement and bribery has been lessened. The scope of offenses of embezzlement, bribery, and misappropriating public funds has been reduced comparatively, possibly in order to limit the number of officials punished criminally for corruption. Some behaviors that arguably are grave enough in their social impact to merit criminalization have not been provided for in criminal law, although many criminal jurists suggested that they should be punished criminally. Hard evidence is scarce about the precise effect that both the reality and the national and international perceptions of corruption control have upon economic development, but the way that China approaches this challenge will have significant effects on the future of its legal system as well as upon its economic and political well-being. 19 references


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