Chinese think tank keeps distance from damning Taiwan corruption report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 1:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 3:16pm

China's leading public policy research institution has denied involvement in a recent study that pointed to rampant corruption in Taiwan.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) was responding to earlier media reports that the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International had tasked a subsidiary of CASS to conduct a public opinion poll on corruption in Taiwan.

"This information is mistaken," the instution said in a statement on Sunday, adding that the research firm cited in the report, Cass Research Centre (CRC), was not its subsidiary. CRC was named in Transparency International's report as the survey company for Taiwan. 

A man reached at the CRC office in Beijing, who declined to be identified, said on Friday that the company had been charged to do a survey on corruption in Taiwan by an intermediary for Transparency International.

He declined to elaborate on the company's ties to CASS, the mainland think tank. On its website, the company, which goes by World Public Opinion Research Company, does not identify itself as a CASS subsidiary. 

Subsequent phone calls and e-mailed requests for comment from CRC went unanswered. The company's website has since been taken down from the internet.

The results of Transparency International's international poll, published in the watchdog's Global Corruption Barometer last week, said two-thirds of the Taiwanese respondents thought corruption was either a problem or a serious problem on the island.  

More than a third of those queried, 35 per cent, said they had paid a bribe to a Taiwanese official over the last 12 months. Some 16 per cent reported having recently bribed a police officer.

Garfie Li, spokeswoman for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, had condemned the report for being inaccurate and said in a statement that the report had harmed the island's image. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a similar statement.

The last time the survey was published in 2011, both Taiwan and the mainland were included. This year, Transparency International left out China, the world's second largest economy, because no research agency was willing to take the job, according to Deborah Unger, spokeswoman for the NGO.

CRC had also been approached to do the survey on mainland China, as it did in 2011, but the research firm "didn't feel it could in 2013, because of the political climate", she said.

Unger said CRC had been contracted by the overall survey supplier, the Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association, which lists CRC as a service provider on its website.

"CRC co-operates closely with the Chinese government and Chinese foreign-funded enterprises and has long been engaged in comparison research between China and foreign entities," the website reads. 

In the most recent version of the the Transparency International's unrelated annual Corruption Perception Index, last released in autumn 2012, Taiwan ranked 37th and China 80th.