Murphy's Law: The Chinese Curse

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October 17, 2010: China is enacting new laws that puts additional pressure on the military to maintain quality standards (in the construction and use of military equipment). Why should something like this be thought necessary? It's all because of corruption, an ancient, and growing, problem in China. There, it is taken as a given that, if you get a government job, you have a license to steal. In the military, this means weapons are built in substandard ways, and equipment is not properly maintained. Military corruption is an ancient Chinese custom, and accounts for most of the poor military performance in the past.

For over a decade, the government has worked to eliminate the worst of the theft and moonlighting by the troops. 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 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 these discussions got onto the Internet and outside the country. While the government tries to keep details of military corruption out of the media, they cannot control the Internet. People love to gossip, especially in a police state like China. The problem is still there.

 


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