Government officials should be given “conditional pardons” for corruption charges if all bribes are repaid and accounted for, according to an academic at Beijing’s top training school for the Communist Party's anti-graft cadres.
In an interview with the Beijing News on Monday, Li Yongzhong, an associate dean at the China Academy of Supervision and Discipline Inspection said the special pardon would give officials a chance to make a fresh start and provide impetus for them to support anti-corruption measures.
“People want indefinite sentencing and feel there must be severe punishments,” said Li. “However, doing so will only generate greater resistance towards the fight against corruption.
Li also argued that it would make little sense adopting a zero-tolerance “never forgive” principle to fight corruption as this would only increase the number of corruption cases and create more resistance to anti-corruption.
Given the average corruption case’s incubation period of roughly nine years, stricter indictments would only lead to an over-accumulation of unsolved cases, Li added.
“[A pardon] reduces the likelihood of those who are already prone to corrupt practices to commit more acts of corruption…this will be done in exchange for their support for political reform.”
Li, billed as an expert in disciplinary matters, categorised three levels of corruption: an exchange of power for money, an exchange of power for sex and an exchange of power for power.
Using power to accumulate money was the most prevalent type of corruption in China due to relatively clear legal and policy boundaries. These were most often “easy one-time transactions” motivated by plain greed and quick monetary gains.
Li stressed the need for more attention to be diverted to the third level of corruption – power for power – the sort where primary drivers are not necessarily economic, monetary or materialistic.
He pointed to the example of the “fuerdai” (children of wealthy individuals) or "guanerdai" (children of government officials) phenomena, where senior officials would exchange favours to move each other’s sons or daughters up the bureaucratic ladder.
“I train your daughter in the reserve cadres, then you can promote my son when you make city mayor,” said Li. “This sort of ‘power trading’…constitutes a blatant abuse of power and belongs to the wider scope of corruption.”