Sometimes the American media reduces the complexities – and certainly the vast scale – of China, down to a few generalizations.
Even when this is not the intent, many Americans understandably lack the capacity to truly comprehend a country with more than four times the population of the United States. Stereotypes take hold.
And so articles about financial corruption in China are taken and enlarged. Of course, there are examples of corruption here and there, with a lot of new money floating about. The odd bank manager or mayor can disappear with untold millions. It happens.
However, in China, these crooks are hunted down and, if caught, they are prosecuted. Some of them are put out of the country’s misery with a bullet to the back of the head. This happens less and less, but it happens. I’m trying to think of the last time an American was put down for corporate fraud. Right. It’s never happened.
In the United States, corruption is often rewarded, and only the schmucks get prosecuted. Consider the 2008 meltdown, for example, where only Bernie Madoff went to jail, having stolen not from the masses but from billionaires (his big mistake).
Corruption in China tends to be a mid-level phenomenon. The average Chinese, the ordinary man and woman on the street, has extremely high ethical standards and is extremely honest.
The top levels of government and corporate leadership here are also honest. To reach those levels of power one must meet exacting Confucian standards for both ethics and competence (scarce commodities among western leaders).
Corruption in China is mostly found in the mid-level areas, with mayors and such, people who rose fast and fell to temptation. Anti-corruption campaigns are emerge from two directions – from below and from above – to squeeze out corruption, like sandwich bread pushing the filling outward.
One of the latest initiatives is the “reverse-benefit model” in which either a briber or a bribee can turn the other in, escape prosecution, and still keep part of the money, even after the corruption is underway. This breaks the trust between would-be conspirators.
Mainstream media in the US smears China as a land of corruption, but this is not the case. Nor does its economy represent a speculative bubble. This is a cash-based economy. Few people have credit cards. Wild speculation and bubbles are limited to the topmost layer, and confined to certain corners of the real-estate and stock market. China’s Mainstreet economy is solid. And now its currency is being incrementally backed by gold.
But getting back to the earlier point: If the United States applied the same standards as China, we would have to shoot every third person on Wall Street.
Hey, now, there’s an idea.