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High-profile cases merely highlight the problem
Corruption is an extremely serious problem for China, seeping through all levels of business and politics and undermining the Communist Party's legitimacy.
Some leaders, including Jiang Zemin, have said the issue could even threaten the party’s very existence. However, no-one has come up with an effective way to stop the rot.
One opinion poll after another in China shows that corrupt officials are a key complaint for the public.
People with low salaries and few welfare benefits see officials in powerful jobs abusing their positions.
Corruption takes place at every level, from local bureaucrats taking kick-backs from businessmen, to a massive smuggling scandal in the southern-eastern city of Xiamen that implicated hundreds of government officials.
As an indication of the scale of the problem, the state-controlled Xinhua news agency said that in 2001, the Communist Party investigated more than 175,000 of its officials for corruption.
The problem has created a tricky dilemma. While it is seen as healthy for corruption to be exposed, the more that comes out, the more the Party’s image is tainted.
Analysts say the authorities can also be reluctant to pursue senior figures.
The government has taken some measures to address the situation, strengthening the legal system and trying to make the civil service more professional.
In 2002, a five-year plan was announced to make sure judges passed law exams - most have no legal training and got their jobs for political reasons.
China will have to clean up its act if it wants to advance as a leading economic power. Now that it has joined the World Trade Organisation it has to prove to foreign investors that it can beat corruption.
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