Corrupt public officials become increasingly adept The author of a report on graft on the mainland has warned that such crimes are growing in both magnitude and sophistication. Guo Yong , a Tsinghua University academic commissioned to write the China section of the Global Corruption Report 2004, observed an increase in corruption involving construction work, land-use allocation and the appointment of local officials. The Corruption Perception Index, which Mr Guo helped to compile, found the mainland ranked 66th out of 133 countries in perceived levels of corruption among public officials. Released in March this year, the Index is part of the Global Corruption Report issued by Transparency International, the Berlin-based global anti-corruption organisation. The mainland scored 3.4 out of 10, with 10 being the best possible tally. Its perceived levels of corruption was comparable to Panama, Sri Lanka and Syria. Hong Kong ranked 14th, with a score of 8.0. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Mr Guo said the problem was severe. 'Compared with other countries, the corruption in China is relatively serious,' said Mr Guo. He said corruption worsened dramatically from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, when the mainland introduced economic reforms. 'Corruption in China is unavoidable in the transitional period of the economy and political system,' Mr Guo said. The good news, he said, was that the government has given priority to addressing the problem. He said corruption has 'entered a stagnant stage', noting that its score has hovered at 3.4 to 3.5 since 1998. Commenting on recent suggestions that the mainland should pardon officials who are willing to turn in their ill-gotten gains, Mr Guo said this might set a bad precedent. The measure could recover lost money, but could also have 'a negative impact on social values'.