Friday, 22 April 2016

Lessons of China's Anti Corruption Policy for Fiji

This week I look at China’s anti corruption policy and its lessons for Fiji. Most articles I have read in the global media seem to imply that the Chinese anti corruption campaign is aimed at getting rid of those who are a threat to the leadership of  President Xi Jinping.  Other articles note that there is a huge power struggle in China. While on his State Visit to the US, Xi Jinping even joked about it. There is no power struggle over anti corruption. “There is no House of Cards,” he said to laughter referring to the US TV Series about political conflict that is also popular in China.  When Xi Jinping visited Fiji in November 2014 he said that "China views Fiji as a cordial friend and an important partner.”
I note the comment made by Dr David Chaikin a Yale University and Cambridge graduate and a respected legal scholar and practitioner specialising in transnational criminal, financial and corporate laws. He had said that Fiji needed to look ‘further afield’ besides Australia in trying to find laws to counter fraud. He had added that Fiji has “to have a look at what’s being done in other jurisdictions … because they really provide a better model as to how you go about tackling fraud and corruption. And that includes countries who you may not even think of looking at such as China.”
It is good news that an extradition treaty between Fiji and the Peoples Republic of China has been agreed to, in principle. The need for a treaty has become more pronounced with the ever increasing numbers of transnational crimes. 
Despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty, the US has extradited criminal suspects to China. This move by the US authorities augers well not only for the Chinese anti corruption drive but also for the fight against corruption globally. China has also launched a huge effort to track suspects of corruption related crimes who have fled the country and it has pledged to work with other nations to win their return to face justice. In the past the U.S. and other Western nations had refused to deport these alleged criminals due to worries about how they might be treated by China’s justice system. These concerns have been proved to be incorrect. 
The Chinese government is helping the Fiji Police Force through a $2 million grant to improve daily policing operations. Acting Fijian Minister for Defence, Security and Immigration had said that “Transnational crime is of concern to both countries, so is corruption. We are happy to have the Chinese government supporting us in a concerted effort to tackle crime,”
China has also pledged its support towards Fiji’s climate change advocacy in the Pacific region. This is important as the Chinese anti corruption agency CCDI has gone to great lengths to investigate environment based corruption especially with senior Government officials accused of taking advantage of their positions to influence policy decisions, build networks of influence, obtain bribes, and undermine market competition. Xi Jinping stressed the importance of laws and regulations in the anti-corruption campaign. Xi stressed that what is most important now is the building of institutions, which includes the attendant laws and regulations. Most Chinese government officials fear Wang Qishan, the head of China’s anti corruption agency known as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). There is even a joke among Chinese that officials would rather face the devil rather than Wang. He has been a major reason behind the huge success of the Chinese  anti-corruption campaign.
The key to success in anticorruption is to build effective institutions to prevent corruption from occurring. Like FICAC in Fiji the CCDI has encouraged ordinary Chinese to start a “taking pictures of corruption when you see it” campaign, meaning that ordinary Chinese should use their cell phones to take pictures of government officials who engage in practices suggestive of corruption such as luxury eating and drinking. They can upload the pictures to the website of the CCDI so Wang’s agency can start its investigation as soon as possible.

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