Unraveling Corruption: Causes, Challenges, and Solutions in East Asia

Categories: Causes Of Corruption

For my research, I would like to propose the following topic: Corruption and anti-corruption laws in East Asia and Russia. In my final paper, I want to elaborate on this topic, delving deeper into the main causes of corruption and inspecting closely some of the (in)famous cases from Japan, China and Russia. Besides, I want to propose a solution to this very difficult problem. I chose Japan as it is country with very famous cases of corruption, despite anti-corruption being intact.

I choose China, because of its very big amount of government positions, as well as very strict anti-corruption laws, which does not seem to work very well. The last but not least, I chose Russia for a couple of reasons. The first one is to bring up a case not from East Asia to compare and contrast it and the second is my own personal interest as a citizen.

The main questions would be the following: What causes corruption and why it is so hard to fight it? Why anti-corruption measures do not work? Under what conditions could we prevent it or at least minimize the damages it makes? In the Russian internet environment, the word “Corruption” became a common denominator for most of the country’s problems, Russian people hear about it every other day.

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Some people attend rallies, some people express their frustration on the internet and some people do nothing. In other words, most of the people in Russia is familiar with this topic, myself included.

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In fact, this problem was bothering me for quite some time.

It is self-evident, that corruption do cause a lot of harm to a government, citizens and economy of a country, but what left this question confusing for me, is the fact that it exists not only in Post-Soviet bloc countries, where existence of corruption could be explained with not yet matured democratic institutions and anti-corruption laws, but also in a countries such as USA, where the democracy was one of the core values since the foundation of the government institute, or China, where exists a death penalty for such an act. Judging from this, I could assume that this problem is global and, therefore, important to a very wide range of people from different classes and nationalities. However, for the sake of more in-depth research, I would like to stick with only aforementioned countries, with an exception of bringing up some of the diverse solutions from Western and Scandinavian countries, in order to see whether their solutions could be put in use in East Asia or Russia.

I do believe that this question is worth asking because we cannot fight the problem, without understanding its origins and nature. Because we cannot just demand the government for corruption to be no more, as without proposing clear and thought-out solutions, we cannot expect for things to change. With this logic in mind, I would want to investigate this topic and make my personal contribution to the solution.

First of all, we have to establish the reasons why people do come to corruption in the first place as well as definition of the corruption. According to Cambridge dictionary, corruption is “illegal, bad, or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power”. () In this research we are going to focus solely on the corruption made by governmental officials, excluding the corporate corruption. However, we also have to establish the answer to why these are two very different things. While the reasons for corruption are mostly the same, it is material gains from some action or governmental, corporate activity, policy, the governmental corruption strikes not only on material well-being of a certain enterprise or other economically active entity, but on the material well-being of the whole state. Moreover, the corruption in governmental structures, for the reason of being public and discussed, multiplies by creating moral hazard in the whole apparatus.

But why the corporative corruption while being on the decline (at least in Russia) () does not coordinate with the levels of governmental corruption? I believe, it has something to do with the nature of these things itself. Corporate corruption is something which could be performed by top tier employees of the corporation, or even the CEO himself, as the main criteria for corruption is that it has to do with the positions of power. It is evident, that the higher you are on the “food chain” of the corporation, the more time you spent in it, and the more your personal well-being is tied to the good performance of the corporation, easiest and the most obvious example would be the fact, that many big companies, as a way of motivating employees to work harder, implement the company’s stocks as a bonus to the paycheck (for example at the end of the year).

It is self-evident, that in a situation like this, traditional forms of corruption such as “kickback” (“form of negotiated bribery in which a commission is paid to the bribe-taker in exchange for services rendered” ()), or “splitting the pot” (basically, company’s budget theft), stop being that rational anymore, even considering your own personal gains. In this situation, the employee has something to lose even though he may be not “caught red-handed”. Not to mention, that it is way easier to cover the effect of the illegal acts on a much smaller scale. However, when it comes to Governmental corruption, the reasons could be way more complicated.

There is no general consensus on the reasons of corruption, as it is deeply tied not only with just formal laws, but also with the certain mentality of citizens as well as the governmental officials themselves. There main reasons in my opinion are as follows: bigger emphasis on bureaucracy in any given country; lack of prestige as the Jury, as well as Court’s dependence on the governmental apparatus; problems with moral tolerance to corruption of the country’s population; low moral standards of governmental workers; certain restrictions involved with governmental work, especially restrictions put onto governmental official, regulating his money expenditure; and the last, but not the least, lack of non-governmental alternatives to certain governmental entities.

Having the main reasons sorted out, we can start to discuss them one by one. But first, we have to find an answer to the following question: “What is the flaw of the anti-corruption measures, that make anti-corruption laws not effective?”. What we can clearly see is that the answer hides not in the lack of harshness of a certain law. The most famous case could be China, where exists the death penalty for crimes higher than 100000 Yuan (1 Yuan ~ 10 rubles as of 2019).

Moreover, if the money was stolen from sources, which were considered a financial help for lower income families or refugees etc., corruption is punished even more harshly. Nevertheless, according to the Epoch Times newspaper interview with the member of National People’s Congress Han Dejun, when he tried for the 7th time (as of 2012) to propose the law which will make information of the personal wealth of the Government officials public, over 99% voted against, which is a showing statistics. () But if even death penalty, can not manage to fight corruption, then what will? It seems to me, the main flaw of laws which aim to fight the corruption is that most anti-corruption laws, not only in China, but in many other countries as well focus solely on punishment, while leaving the causes of corruption (especially psychological) untouched.

Corruption is a great example of Game theory, specifically prisoner’s dilemma. If everyone in a governmental apparatus would suddenly stop giving or taking bribes, or practicing any other sort of illegal acts, the government would work with way better efficiency, thus improving economics of the state and overall quality of life. Better economics could lead to bigger paychecks for them and their family both nominally and relatively (as the currency would become stronger), and in the end, everyone would be better off. However, in case of one particular official cutting his profits from illegal acts, he would put himself in way worse position than that of his colleagues. Judging by the government officials, lack of understanding of the potential long-run harms of the corruption should be even more prevalent in the masses, who do not have direct affect on the politics.

To add to that, it seems that in the countries such as Russia or China, people care way less about politics in general, as both these countries transformed from a monarchy directly to Communism-oriented countries, with no room for democracy, which encourages political debates and knowing more about the politics for the ordinary people. During the Tzar or Emperor rule both in China and in Russia, the position of government officials was almost not possible to reach for a non-privileged commoner, therefore, people had no particular interest in politics, as it was way out of their league. The situation didn’t change much during the Communist rule, as even though ordinary people could now reach higher echelons of political power, Party rule only could make changes from above, but not the other way, leaving ordinary people with no real opportunity to pull the lever, if something goes wrong. This only made the political apathy worse through the times.

Updated: Jan 30, 2024
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Unraveling Corruption: Causes, Challenges, and Solutions in East Asia. (2024, Jan 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/unraveling-corruption-causes-challenges-and-solutions-in-east-asia-essay

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