【英语中国】FT社评:中国必须无私无畏地反腐 Leader_China cannot relax war on corruption

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-1-23 15:37

小艾摘要: When Xi Jinping became leader of the Chinese Communist party a little more than a year ago, he made the fight against corruption a central theme of his leadership. Over the past year China has seen th ...
Leader_China cannot relax war on corruption
When Xi Jinping became leader of the Chinese Communist party a little more than a year ago, he made the fight against corruption a central theme of his leadership. Over the past year China has seen the detention of dozens of top officials on suspicion of financial improprieties. More than 180,000 people have been punished for corruption. Mr Xi has left little doubt that he believes unchecked graft threatens the future of the Chinese Communist party. Yet two events this week raise doubts about how sincere his drive really is.

First, there is the trial of Xu Zhiyong, a human rights lawyer, which has started in Beijing. Mr Xu is part of a loose group of civic activists who are campaigning for rules requiring government officials to disclose their financial assets. The demands he is making appear to be perfectly in line with the leadership’s anti-corruption drive. But he is now on trial for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order” – suggesting that Mr Xi’s campaign has its limits.

The second event was publication of a report by a Washington- based organisation called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The report claims that more than a dozen family members of China’s top political and military leaders are making use of offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands.

Financial records received by the ICIJ reveal that more than 21,000 mainland Chinese and Hong Kong residents have used offshore tax havens in the Caribbean to store their wealth. It is unclear how much of this activity is illegal under Chinese law. But the report is a reminder that the Chinese public has been left largely in the dark about how their country’s elite has amassed its wealth – and where its money is deposited.

The scale of corruption among Chinese officials is undoubtedly one of the biggest threats to the Communist party’s long-term survival. China’s rapid economic growth is creating internal tensions because of widening income differentials. If the popular perception grows that Chinese leaders are spending more time lining their own pockets than running the country effectively, then political unrest will surely follow.

We should not dismiss the way Mr Xi is trying to deal with the problem. After all, there are limits to how quickly he can act. If he allows the anti-corruption drive to gather pace at uncontrolled speed, he may undermine the Communist party completely. This may explain why the Chinese leadership wants to set limits to the role played by activists such as Mr Xu. Still, the Chinese middle class is weary of the corruption and backhanders that have plagued the country’s commerce. Mr Xi runs the risk of alienating the public unless he demonstrates that the anti-corruption campaign is waged with a minimum of fear or favour.

In the meantime, western financial and corporate leaders need to realise that Chinese corruption is not an issue to which they can turn a blind eye, either. This is because the ICIJ suggests that western banks and accountancy firms have acted as middlemen in the establishment of offshore companies for Chinese clients.

There is still much we do not know about the offshore investments by the Chinese elite. But over recent years, several banks have fallen foul of international authorities because of their support for illegal activities. In 2012 HSBC was fined $1.92bn by US regulators after illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Iran, Libya and Cuba. A decade ago a number of European banks were embarrassed when it emerged that they were handling billions of dollars of assets linked to the former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha. Whatever the challenges of doing business with China may be, western banks should make sure that they are not fuelling corrupt practices.

一年多以前,当习近平成为中共领导人时,他把反腐斗争当作他执政期间的一个核心任务。过去一年里,中国有数十名高官因涉嫌经济问题而被关了起来,逾18万人因腐败而受到惩罚。习近平显然认为,失控的腐败行为会危及中共的未来。然而,本周发生的两件事,令人不禁怀疑他的反腐努力到底有多真诚。

第一件事是人权律师许志永的案件在北京开审。许志永是一个松散的公民运动组织的成员,这个组织呼吁制定法规,要求政府官员公示财产。许志永提出的要求,似乎与中国领导层的反腐方向完全一致。但如今,他却因“聚众扰乱公共场所秩序”的指控受审,这说明习近平的反腐运动是有局限的。

第二件事是一个位于华盛顿的、名为国际调查记者联盟(ICIJ)的组织发布了一份报告。报告声称,中国政界和军方高层领导人的十来位亲属在英属维尔京群岛拥有离岸公司。

ICIJ得到的财务记录显示,共有逾2.1万名中国内地和香港居民利用加勒比海的离岸避税天堂存放资产。目前还不清楚这类活动在多大程度上违反了中国法律。不过这份报告提醒人们,中国公众在很大程度上对该国精英阶层如何聚敛财富——以及把财富存放在哪里——一无所知。

中国官员的腐败规模之大,无疑对中共的长期生存构成了极大威胁。由于收入差距不断拉大,中国的快速经济增长在国内引发了紧张情绪。有一种流行看法认为,中国领导人正把更多的时间用于充实自己的腰包,而不是对国家实施有效的管理。如果这种看法影响越来越大,随之而来的必然是政治上的振荡。

习近平正在努力应对这一问题,我们不应彻底否定他的应对方式。毕竟,他的行动速度受到一些因素的限制。如果他听任反腐运动继续加速,甚至失控,他可能会彻底毁掉中共。这或许可以解释,为什么中国领导层希望为许志永等社会活动人士发挥的作用设限。不过,中国中产阶级已经烦透了困扰中国商业的腐败和回扣现象。如果习近平不能向公众证明自己的反腐努力是最无私无畏的,他可能会失去民心。

另一方面,西方金融界和企业界领袖也需认识到,他们对中国的腐败,也不能睁一只眼、闭一只眼。之所以这么说,是因为ICIJ暗示,在为中国客户创办离岸公司的过程中,西方银行和会计师事务所扮演了中间人角色。

对于中国精英阶层的离岸投资,我们还有许多情况尚不了解。不过最近几年,已有几家银行因支持类似的非法活动而触怒了国际监管机构。2012年,汇丰(HSBC)因代表伊朗、利比亚和古巴的客户非法开展交易,被美国监管机构罚款19.2亿美元。十年前,有消息称几家欧洲银行在打理与尼日利亚前领导人萨尼?阿巴查(Sani Abacha)有关联的数十亿美元资产,令这些银行尴尬不已。不论与中国开展业务会遇到何种挑战,西方银行都应确保自己没有为腐败行为推波助澜。

译者/何黎

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