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Special Issue

Corruption And Anticorruption Campaigns
In China

Introduction
 
“If we round up all the officials of mid-level and above, and execute all of them for corruption, well, we may kill a few innocent ones. However, if we execute every other one, we will certainly miss many guilty ones!”—A popular joke in China

As depicted by the above joke, corruption in China has been widespread and deeply rooted at all levels of the government for decades, and the literature on this subject is so rich that there seems to be nothing new to add. This might be true until Xi Jinping came to power, who waged a new anticorruption campaign that has brought down many formerly untouchables in the party, and has made a great impact on the state, the economy, and the society. Has Xi’s campaign fundamentally changed the corruption scene in China? Will it succeed? Against this background, we organize this special issue focusing on Xi’s anticorruption campaign.
As will be seen in this issue, the articles, commentary, and roundtable discussion by experts in the field form an impressive collection that offers theoretical rigor, solid empirical evidence, and policy recommendations. 
The roundtable discussion organized and compiled by Minxin Pei provides views of five scholars who have done extensive research on corruption and anticorruption campaigns in China. Dingxin Zhao’s comments focuses on the social causes and impact of corruption in China and compares corruption in China with corruption in democratic countries. Jiangnan Zhu comments on several unique features of corruption in China such as the briber-bribee relationship, lavish banquets in China, the inter works of anticorruption campaigns, and the relationship between officials’ salaries and corruption. Zhiwu Chen examines corruption from an economist’s perspective and points out that the Chinese government’s dilemma in fighting corruption results from the structural issue of the Chinese economy, which heavily relies on government-led investments. Cracking down on corruption demoralizes officials, which in turn slows down investments in the Chinese economy. Yunxiang Yan provides his observation of corruption and anticorruption in China from an anthropological lens. He points out that while the anticorruption campaign is popular among ordinary people, it does not address the root cause of corruption and therefore cannot fundamentally improve the relationship between officials and ordinary people.  Ting Gong observes that the root cause of corruption is the unchecked, absolute power of the government, which provides opportunities for the corrupt officials to abuse it. She also discusses the vital role of social forces in monitoring officials in fighting corruption.
While the five scholars have provided diverse views on the issue from different angles, one view in common among them is that they all believe that without addressing the root cause of corruption, the anticorruption campaigns such as the current one cannot succeed in the long run. 
In their article, “Does Xi Jinping’s Anticorruption Campaign Improve Regime Legitimacy?”, Yan Sun and Baishun Yuan use survey data from a medium Chinese city to assess the impact of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign on the social attitude and regime legitimacy. The survey asks in-depth and interesting questions and their statistical analyses provide a rare glimpse on how ordinary people think about corruption and the anticorruption effort by the government. 
Andrew Wedeman approaches the issue from a comparative approach and addresses one of the hotly debated issues about Xi’s crackdown on the high-level corrupt officials, or “tigers”: Is it an anticorruption campaign or factional purge? In his article “Xi Jinping’s Tiger Hunt: Anti-corruption Campaign or Factional Purge?”, Wedeman compares the history of political purges in the Soviet Union and Xi’s current tiger hunt, and provides insightful analysis and conclusion.
In “Xi’s Anticorruption Campaign and the Increasing Uncertainty of Chinese Politics: A New Framework of Analysis,” Guoguang Wu develops a theoretical framework to analyze the recent anticorruption campaign in China.  The framework has three macro levels, and each of them has three sub-levels. Based on the framework, Wu argues that the effectiveness of Xi’s anticorruption campaign will diminish and the uncertainty of Chinese politics will rise.
Qiang Fang assesses Xi’s campaign from a historical perspective in his article, “Xi Jinping’s Anticorruption Campaign from a Historical Perspective.” Fang compares Xi’s campaign with the major anticorruption efforts by the emperors in the Tang, Ming, and Qing dynasties. His comparison sheds light on the assessment of the fate of Xi’s current campaign.
In “Assessment of and Outlook on China’s Corruption and Anticorruption Campaigns: Stagnation in the Authoritarian Trap,” Shaomin Li reviews the state of corruption and anticorruption campaigns in China and proposes the term of “authoritarian trap” to describe the fundamental contradiction in China’s current political system in which unchecked power drives corruption to a rampant level threatening the regime’s survival, and yet cleaning up corruption undermines official morality on which the regime relies.
Rosey Bao and Krista Lewellyn provide an in-depth coverage of studies on corruption in their review article, “Corruption in China: A Review.” In their assessment, Bao and Lewellyn not only give an overview of the current stage of academic research on corruption in China, but also identify limitations of past research and propose directions for future studies in this field. 
Finally, we include a short commentary by Shaomin Li, Ilan Alon, and Ju Wu, who, based on their recent study on regime type, corruption, and economic growth using cross-country data, dispel the anti-democratization argument that democratization induces corruption.

– Special Issue Editors

As will be seen in this issue, the articles, commentary, and roundtable discussion by experts in the field form an impressive collection that offers theoretical rigor, solid empirical evidence, and policy recommendations.


The roundtable discussion organized and compiled by Minxin Pei provides views of five scholars who have done extensive research on corruption and anticorruption campaigns in China. Dingxin Zhao’s comments focuses on the social causes and impact of corruption in China and compares corruption in China with corruption in democratic countries. Jiangnan Zhu comments on several unique features of corruption in China such as the briber-bribee relationship, lavish banquets in China, the inter works of anticorruption campaigns, and the relationship between officials’ salaries and corruption. Zhiwu Chen examines corruption from an economist’s perspective and points out that the Chinese government’s dilemma in fighting corruption results from the structural issue of the Chinese economy, which
 
Current Issue
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ISSN 2160-0295 (Print)
ISSN 2160-0317 (Online)