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28 Apr, 2014

China finally identifies its biggest challenge: Money worship

Global Times

April 26, 2014 – Mao Xiaobing, party secretary of Xining, Qinghai Province, was added to the investigation list on April 24. He is the eighth provincial or ministerial-level official in trouble this year, an average of two a month. The fall of the high officials shows the determination of China’s endeavor in fighting corruption, though it also reflects the severity of the problem. More corrupt officials are likely to be revealed.

One of the reasons for the teeming corruption is that there have been big loopholes in the supervision of officials. We failed to forge a system to cage official power, and that is now one of the main tasks of reform.

However, if officials are highly motivated to grab money and social values encourage them to do so, supervision will be futile no matter what the system. The system is powerful only when it fits the social values, otherwise the authority of the system will be undermined.

Chinese society has become highly market-oriented, and money is given the highest value. Wealth beats other factors as criterion of success.

The former values of officials were greatly squeezed by the market economy, as a result, some officials lost themselves and the social environment changed as well.

With the bombardment by money, different social values cannot prosper. One dating show contestant said she would rather “cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle,” while a professor asked his students not to return to see him unless they had made 40 million yuan by the age of 40. Such distorted views are expanding.

China must forge a powerful modern culture to balance money worship, and support the officials’ intention to keep clean with a healthy social value system. This culture, alongside the establishment of new regulations, will make it possible to achieve a clean government.

China must construct a value system, as some of the most difficult problems are rooted in the culture. China needs to create political and cultural theories, and efforts from both the government and the public are needed in social and cultural reforms. We should be focused on achieving a common spiritual pursuit in society beside money, and these values should be at least almost as appealing as money is.

The society of the West has realized a balance between money and power. Rich people become officials as it is accepted that company executives and politicians exchange roles, which has provided opportunities for the wealthy to control the state. China should be alert to this danger, and we should explore our own values of frugality and the path to achieve them.

The construction of values is a difficult cause, but a key area to maintain the momentum of China’s reforms.