China: Democracy no graft cure

2010-07-12 15:33

Beijing - Multi-party democracy is no panacea for overcoming graft, which is instead best tackled by getting ordinary people to report corrupt officials, the mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party said on Monday.

Beijing fears official malfeasance and graft is undermining its authority and sparking protests by disgruntled workers and farmers.

Despite public campaigns and high-profile crackdowns, corruption remains a serious problem. Critics say the graft fight is hampered by lack of an independent judicial system and officials not held accountable to an electorate.

Not so, said the official People's Daily, in a lengthy editorial about tackling corruption.

"Looking back on the political development of the West, corruption has gone hand-in-hand with the establishment of the multi-party system," the newspaper wrote.

"In the 1990s, the main governing parties of many Western countries had corruption scandals," it added, in a part of the editorial called "Answering a question from web users".

Democracy 'worsened corruption'

Italy and the United States had serious corruption scandals over that period, it said.

"Some developing nations, after promoting multi-party systems, found that not only was the problem of corruption not resolved, it actually got more serious in some cases," the newspaper added.

In a 2008 list of the world's 10 most corrupt countries, nine had multi-party systems, it said.

"The facts prove that the Western multi-party system ... cannot prevent or solve the issue of corruption, and is not a panacea."

No room for liberalisation

The Communist Party allows carefully controlled ballots for some low-ranking posts in villages and local assemblies. But calls to expand popular votes made little headway, while leaders say they have expanded discussion and voting within the Party.

China does have other political parties, but they have no power and answer to the Communist Party.

In China, "the masses are the main force to rely on to fight corruption and promote good government", the editorial said.

More than 70% of graft investigations came from tip-offs from ordinary people over the past few years, it added.

More efforts should be made to encourage people to report graft via the internet, the newspaper said.

Last year, the head of China's Communist Party-run parliament, Wu Bangguo, struck an uncompromising stance against political liberalisation, ruling out Western-style democratic reforms.