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Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China

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Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China
By Andrew Wedeman
Cornell University Press, 2012
272 pp. $26.95

The politicization of prosecutions for corruption in China makes official data untrustworthy, but Wedeman has still found plausible ways to assess different types of corruption and their frequency. Starting in the 1990s, privatization transferred public assets into private hands, and the officials guiding that process exacted a price. As the transfer process peaked, that type of corruption tailed off. Much of what now goes on in China is not “degenerative corruption,” which eats away at an economy, but “transactive corruption,” which takes place when officials and businesspeople cooperate to promote growth and consider it reasonable to share the proceeds. Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, Wedeman contends that the Chinese Communist Party’s anticorruption campaign has been effective enough to keep the party from becoming a predatory institution. He sees the country moving into a U.S.-style “progressive era” of even more effective anticorruption measures.

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