A recent Xinhua report, since scrubbed from the internet, gave a rare insight into how official positions are bought and sold - call it the marketplace of graft. The article was unusual because it presented corruption as systemic, which runs counter to the Communist Party line that graft is a moral failing of the individual. The person is the problem, and the solution is to kick them out of the party, put them on trial and send them to jail. But if corruption is inherent in the system as it's currently structured then the fix is much more daunting - and dangerous to the legitimacy of the party. The article, entitled "Who are the buyer and the seller?", said graft-busters had identified three types of people who might try to buy positions - those who were eager for a promotion, those who wanted to be transferred from a poor unit or region to the rich one, and people outside government who wanted in. The main sellers are senior officials, particular the top official in a region or a unit who has power over personnel matters. The No 2, and sometimes the third and even fourth-in-command, take bribes to help people get promoted. The Xinhua report also detailed the methods buyers used to pay. Some borrowed from banks, while others sought sponsorship from businessmen who would reap the benefits after the official was promoted. Some used money obtained through bribes or other corruption. Buyers could also pay through instalments, just like a homeowner might pay their mortgage. Business usually picks up just before elections and major reshuffles of the party and government leadership, meaning there is usually a boom every five years. The best time to bribe a higher official is when they are on vacation, when a family member is ill, when their children plan to go study abroad, or around important family events such as a weddings and birthdays. Recent cases have indicated the size of payments involved. Luo Yinguo, former party chief of Maoming city in Guangdong, was sentenced to death last year for receiving more than 100 million yuan (HK$126 million) in bribes from 64 officials seeking promotions. Luo set posts with specific price tags: 200,000 yuan for a technology posting; two million yuan for department-level one; 10 million yuan for a deputy mayor position. He even put a price on his own post - 100 million yuan. At trial, Luo claimed China's officialdom was a marketplace where certain corrupt officials sold and other corrupt officials bought positions. In two other spectacular cases, Xu Caihou, 70, who retired as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission last year and from the Politburo in 2012, and Gu Junshan , former PLA deputy logistics chief, have been accused of accepting bribes to promote hundreds of officers, raking in ten of millions yuan. The rule of the market is simple: the larger the "investment" for a position, the higher the return that will be sought. The payments also explain why the civil service has become the most sought-after job by youngsters on the mainland, with 76.4 per cent of university graduates viewing it as their top career choice. The figure is 2 per cent in Singapore, 3 per cent in the United States, and 5 per cent in France. The Xinhua report was widely reproduced by other state-run print media and internet portals. But it was quickly deleted from the web, including Xinhua's site. Party censors know well that rampant corruption and the high price for positions show the extent and severity of the corruption endemic in officialdom. It develops rapidly in a system where demand is high, and supply is limited, where transparency, and checks and balances are virtually non-existent.