Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by David S.G. Goodman
Official corruption, defined as the exchange of official power for private gain through violation of laws and regulations, has been a serious socio-political issue in China. As it sought to displace the ruling Guomindang (GMD, or Nationalist Party), the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its friends such as Edgar Snow successfully attacked the GMD as largely dominated by four corrupt families. The attack chiselled away at the GMD’s legitimacy and helped to win over supporters for the CCP as a clean and disciplined new political force seeking to liberate the people from domestic and foreign oppressors (Snow 1938; Tsou 1963). As the CCP took over national power, Mao Zedong and his colleagues took aim at corruption and numerous other forms of what they considered to be political deviances, including launching the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, one of the goals of which was to combat those pursuing ‘revisionism’ and ‘capitalism’ (Wilson 1977). Following Mao’s death, China turned its attention from class struggle to economic construction, and corruption has grown alongside the economy. Public discontentment with corruption, then known as ‘official profiteering’, was an important factor fuelling the massive student demonstrations in 1989.
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