Special Report

Public Officials Are More Likely to Accept Bribes in China Than Any Other Country

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Lai Xiaomin, an executive of the China Huarong Asset Management Co and former head of the China state-owned investment operation, was put to death on Jan. 19, 2021. The charges against him were for graft, corruption, and embezzlement. While it is unclear whether Lai received bribes from foreign companies, in China, public officials are more likely to accept bribes from outside companies than in any other country, according to watchdog group Transparency International.

China may lead the world in this category as there is almost no enforcement of activities that might trigger foreign bribes. The number of investigations into foreign bribery from 2018 to 2021 was zero, according to the Berlin-based Transparency International. (Also see, this is the most corrupt country in the world.)

Very few people outside China actually know how many people work for its government. “As of June 2021, the Party boasted 4.86 million ‘primary-level’ Party organizations, including in all neighborhoods,” the Congressional Research Service reports. That is as good a guess as any other. What it means is that the network of government officials is so large that even the central government cannot monitor its actions effectively.

The practice of foreign companies bribing local officials, in any country, for favorable treatment corrupts the flow of commerce across international lines, Transparency International explains. The group has warned about “a continued decline in enforcement against foreign bribery in many countries.” Out of the 47 countries the group reviewed — countries that are responsible for 84% of global exports — only the United States and Switzerland are considered to be actively policing foreign bribery. (And this is America’s least trusted institution.)

Transparency International also found that along with China – Luxembourg, India, Finland, and Bulgaria – launched no anti-bribery investigations against foreign companies from 2018 to 2021.

See 24/7 Wall St.’s list of countries where government officials accept the most bribes.

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