January 12, 2011:
The Chinese government is publically threatening to execute corrupt judges, as well as members of the security services, who are caught taking bribes. The government leadership is getting desperate about stopping the growing public anger against corrupt officials, and the threat of rebellion, or just widespread unrest, that it implies.
The Communist Party that has controlled China for over sixty years is increasingly accepting the fact that it is its own worst enemy. The problem is corruption, particularly among party members. One advantage of joining the Party is that it gives you an edge in getting government jobs, especially ones that enable you to get rich by taking bribes. In the last two decades, the government has announced several campaigns to eliminate the corruption (and all the anger and anti-government gossip among the people the communists are supposed to be serving.) Most of these efforts have hardly made a dent in the corruption. While more death sentences for corrupt senior officials makes headlines, its the millions of minor acts of corruption every day that cause most of the anger. One of the more common irritants is police corruption, which often takes the form of police being used by corrupt officials to steal land or other assets. In addition to that, police often demand bribes to avoid punishment for real or imagined crimes. The government acknowledges that there is a problem with the cops, but have not been able to do anything meaningful to reform the two million strong police force. Too many cops are basically for hire, often to the highest bidder (local officials, businessmen or gangsters). The central government can only intervene in a few places, and the threat of that insures that the police put a priority on keeping the peace in their neighborhood. Thus police commanders were punished because of the Uighur and Tibetan unrest, but not for all the bribes police took, and how that played a role in causing the unrest among the Uighurs and Tibetans.
There's a lot of corruption remaining in the military as well. For over a decade, the government has worked to eliminate the worst of the theft and moonlighting. The most outrageous examples of this have been curbed. Thus military officers no longer use cash from the defense budget to set up weapons factories they then run and profit from. Big chunks of procurement cash no longer disappear into the offshore bank accounts of generals and admirals. But there's still a lot of corruption. Much is still for sale, like promotions. Lower ranking officers and NCOs can still be found selling weapons and equipment that is reported "destroyed" or "missing." Commanders who are not doing so well, can pay to have reports of their performance upgraded. Senior government officials still have doubts about how effective the military would be in another war. It was noted, usually by journalists, that the army response to several recent national disasters (which usually employ troops for disaster relief) had problems. This is not supposed to be reported, but the journalists discuss it among themselves, and some of this knowledge gets onto the Internet and outside the country. People love to gossip, especially in a police state like China.
But for the government, gossip against them is the first stage of revolution. And the biggest topic of this gossip is the unrelenting complaints about government corruption.