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132 China Review International: Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1996 N OTES1. Among them Merle Goldman's Sowing the Seeds ofDemocracy in China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994) and Perry Link's Evening Chats in Beijing (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992). Ting Gong. The Politics ofCorruption in Contemporary China: An Analysis ofPolicy Outcomes. Westport and London: Praeger Publishers, 1994. 216 pp. Hardcover $55.00, isbn 0-275-94689-4. Corruption is a notoriously slippery subject for academics to analyze—so much so that few have bothered to try. Disagreement cracks away at the essential building blocks of clear thinking: What is it? Can the extent of corruption be usefully measured—assuming, à la the economist, a definition? Which discipline (or disciplinary stew) offers the most powerful analytic wedge: economics? comparative politics? anthropology? This is a stormy sea upon which only the most daring and experienced navigators should embark. Unfortunately for Ting Gong, she drowns. The book sets out with the dual goals ofproviding fresh empirical evidence on corruption in China since 1949 and analyzing the PRCs graft problems from a new perspective—the policy-outcomes approach. It starts by outlining a series of broad policy goals pursued by the central government—transformation, consolidation , and modernization—and suggests that contradictions inherent in these efforts led to unintended consequences, including corruption. The author then takes us through her approach to defining corruption, a brief overview of the existing theoretical literature, and some elaboration ofthe policy-outcomes idea. A subsequent chapter looks at China's legacy of corruption in the late imperial and Republican periods. The bulk of the book then considers chronologically aspects of China's political, economic, and organizational policy shifts, providing at intervals both indications of common corruption patterns and accounts ofantigraft campaigns. Although arguments about corruption's genesis dot the text in an ad hoc and often contradictory way, the core causal arguments can be reduced to two: that corruption and related problems in the 1950-1980 period stemmed principally from a contradiction between the CCP's ambitious transformation and consolidation goals and the dearth of talented administrators to carry out these poli- ^ ! r ! / cjes> an(t Jj1^ surging corruption in the reform period ofthe 1980s derived largely from pushing economic reform without associated political liberalization. This outline ofthe study's content imposes more order than actually exists, however, as the book states its objectives differently at different times. At points, ofHawai'i Press Reviews 133 for example, Ting Gong appears to abjure causal analysis altogether, claiming, instead , mainly to offer insight into how the Chinese leadership itselfperceived its corruption problems. (In practice, this effort amounts to repeated suggestions that the CCP did not like it.) Further, the empirical sections are largely disconnected from the proposed theoretical framework, with the application of theory to evidence limited mainly to briefintroductory and concluding observations, rather than sustaining this approach through the historical chapters. For students of China, this study will be most useful as a one-volume synopsis ofcommon patterns ofgraft in each ofseveral historical periods. Empirically the study is strongest on the latest period covered, 1988-1992, where there is new research using Chinese language sources. In addition, the author compiles some useful data from two surveys of cases published in the People's Daily in 1951-1952 and 1988-1989. Yet surprisingly for a native Chinese speaker, for factual accounts of graft and its policy context in much of the 1950s and 1960s, the author relies overwhelmingly on well-trodden secondary sources, including the work of Frederick Teiwes, Harry Harding, Roderick MacFarquhar, and Maurice Meisner. The study's analysis ofthese periods also adds little that is new to their earlier findings . Even her examination ofthe recent reform period provides few new facts beyond those already scattered in existing secondary sources, although it is useful, as I have noted, to have much of this information summarized in one place. Yet where Ting Gong is truly shipwrecked is in her effort to analyze the causes and effects ofcorruption. Ifwe start from the presumption that the central goal of the social sciences is to elucidate causal relationships, then it is difficult to find much here that serves to enlighten. To begin with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 132-134
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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