Corruption in Asia and the Power of the Peasant in China

Corruption is a fact-of-life in Asia, and China may be one of the few countries in Asia doing something about it.

The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2013 reveals most of Asia is “very” corrupt—the smaller number is better and 175 is the worst global ranking, and that infamy is shared between Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.

Of 177 countries ranked for corruption, Myanmar (Burma) was ranked 157; Iraq 171; Laos 140; Cambodia 160; Vietnam 116, and Indonesia 114.

Even India, the world’s largest democracy, was ranked 94. Singapore, by comparison, is 5th—one of the least corrupt countries in the world and it’s tied with Norway. The countries with the least corruption in the world were Denmark tied with New Zeeland. Third place goes to Finland and Sweden, another tie.

Thailand, another democracy, was ranked 102, but China—you know—the country that gets so much bad press in the United States for corruption, was ranked 80th—55% of the world’s countries were rated worse.

The power of the Chinese peasant demonstrated in this video may have something to do with China’s improved score as one of the least corrupt nations in East Asia. Few were better than China. South Korea was ranked 46 and Japan 18 which is better than the United States at 19.

It may come as a surprise to many Western critics but in rural China, democracy’s ballot box has been active at the village level since the mid-1980s. In fact, in 1997, The Independent reported that China’s rural peasants were discovering the power of the ballot box.

“Under Communist Party rule, village elections are the only example of one-person, one-vote democracy in China. Launched in the mid-eighties, they were originally introduced to replace the village communes that were dissolved after the Cultural Revolution.”

Few outside China have heard of China’s rural democracy. Nearly one million villages with 600 million Chienese hold elections and each time there is an election, the peasants learn more about democracy in action.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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2 Responses to Corruption in Asia and the Power of the Peasant in China

  1. merlin says:

    Cleaning corruption might seem like the moral thing to do, but there’s another side to the coin that is being totally ignored. While Xi is cleaning house, the economy is taking hits. The luxury goods market is on the decline. When he battled prostitution both offline and online, he may have caused more problems.

    Take Japan as an example when the government tried pushing laws against the manga scene for the use of children in some of their erotic series. One might think it is a moral thing to stop the production and sales of cartoon child porn, but in fact the reverse happened. When the law went into effect, and the manga companies pulled children out of their erotic issues, the government discovered a rise in Child molestation cases throughout the nation. They quickly redacted the new law, and discovered a decline in child molestation. It’s a psychological case, and cartoon comics help people release built up mental pressures so they can continue living a normal life. Imagine if you were told it’s illegal to have Playboy hidden under your bed. The pent up stress would drive a person to search for alternatives.

    Everyone praises the anti-corruption squad, but I think people may not want to be celebrating. China has corruption nearly everywhere from the peasant to the president himself. Obviously, as we’ve seen with the treatment of western media reporting on his family’s wealth, he’s exempt from the anti-corruption squad. Once he’s done cleaning the government, he’s going to move on to businesses. Many language centers and schools will either be reformed by the government, or shut down.

    In the shadows I can feel the increasing pressure to root out the white man because many of us are corrupt either from working illegally or doing things we regret while drunk. China used to be one of those places for unqualified teachers and adventure seekers. Today, China is seeking professional scholars, but as I’ve noticed in a job ad for a Shanghai university, nobody with a master degree + 2-3 years of experience will take a 7,000rmb/month job in China. They’re not just pushing us out of the job market, but it seems they’re removing popular American comedy series claiming “it’s dirty”. I never knew the Big Bang Theory to be “dirty”.

    Change is coming to China. The coin has been flipped. Which side do you stand on?

    • That pretty much sums up history all over the world. Whenever governments take away a vise, the vise—for instance, booze, drugs, prostitution—just goes underground. Look what happened in the U.S. with prohibition in the early 20th century and now this war on drugs like pot, meth and cocaine. What is it about people that when you tell them they can’t do something, many go out and find a way to do it anyway

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