The first pay rise in eight years for mainland civil servants is in part a move to fight corruption. Higher salaries, the thinking goes, means less temptation to take advantage of a position of power. This is not necessarily the case; there also have to be mechanisms in place to ensure honesty, transparency and proper compensation for work done. Those who work for the public good have to be treated fairly. Government salaries have not kept pace with those in the private sector - there has been no significant increase for years. Coupled with inflation, the lack of a wage review has been especially challenging for those in junior ranks. This has been despite the addition of performance bonuses and allowances that include payments for travel and housing. The broadening from the private sector to the civil service of a pension scheme mandating 8 per cent of income made an increase inevitable. But there has not been complete public support for the rises, which range from 62 per cent for top leaders like President Xi Jinping to more than double for the lowest-ranking civil servants. Some do not believe that increasing salaries will lessen graft and corruption; the lowest-paid workers are still not receiving enough to adequately support their families and greed will persist regardless of wage levels for those able to take advantage of their position. Xi's crackdown on corruption and lavish behaviour by officials has hit hard at illegal earnings. If wages do not keep track with those in the private sector, fewer university graduates will want to join the civil service and those with jobs will be tempted away, leading to a brain drain. Hong Kong and Singapore offer models. While conditions in the cities are not the same as on the mainland, corruption in their civil services is low and wages are competitive to ensure high standards. Mainland officials have promised wages will be reviewed every year or so, but a system like that in Hong Kong, where salary movements in the private sector are taken into consideration, would be a worthwhile part of the process. Similarly, pay levels should be transparent and the integrity of potential employees considered, while ultimately, there has to be better worker oversight and legal institutions. For too long, mainland civil servants have been underpaid. The increase is a first step to improving conditions. Nor should the move be seen as a way of stamping out grey income and corrupt money. That can only come about through oversight, enforcement of rules and a changed mindset.