China ranked third worldwide for bribery cases reported through a new online system in the past year, but the group that compiled the figures said its position might be due to the large number of companies doing business on the mainland. A total of 148 companies and individuals reported bribery demands on the mainland for the year ending on June 30, behind only Russia and India, US-based Trace International said yesterday. 'The countries with the most business and most international travel have the most reports,' Trace president Alexandra Wrage said in announcing the results for the first year of its online reporting system, Bribeline. However, the statistics did highlight trends particular to the mainland, including a disproportionate number of police and judges demanding bribes compared with similar economies. Of the bribe demands reported on the mainland during the period, 85 per cent were requested by those affiliated with the government, including 11 per cent each by both members of the police and the judiciary. 'In a thriving global economy like China, the police are disproportionately high,' Ms Wrage said. 'On a commercial basis, I think I would be looking at an arbitration clause to avoid the Chinese courts.' Nearly three-quarters of those reporting bribes said they had been asked more than once, of which a fifth had been asked more than 100 times. 'It really is endemic,' she said. Most demands - 77 per cent - were for cash or cash equivalents. However, more than 20 per cent asked for something else, such as gifts or even sexual favours. The amounts were also surprising, showing bribes had risen in value, with 55 per cent between US$100 and US$5,000. 'That seemed to be the bribery sweet spot,' Ms Wrage said. There were few bribe requests under US$20, as was the case in many developing countries, yet demands for more than US$500,000 were a 'significant' 6 per cent. The majority of bribes were not demanded in return for awarding business, but rather for avoidance of harm or granting something that a party was entitled to - such as timely delivery of services. 'These really fall into the category of extortionate demands rather than pure commercial bribery. You're paying for the status quo,' Ms Wrage said. She recommended companies allow time and encourage transparency to avoid giving bribes. 'If you introduce both difficulty and delay [for the bribe-taker], you can usually get through it,' she said.