Almost Everything We've Done Is Illegal

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The Politics of Growth
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In that sense, I think it’s better to institutionalize corruption.

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<p>Well, I think, as you said, the corruption issue is very complicated. First, we have to realize, in the last 30 years, almost everything we have done has been illegal in some sense. If we followed our constitution strictly, we wouldn&rsquo;t have been end up today. For example, we privatized most of our SOEs and, of course, [this was] against our constitution, before the constitution was amended. Of course, after the constitution was amended, then it was made legal. Otherwise, it was illegal. I can point to a lot of examples to show that. But, in terms of corruption, if you look at the government officials&rsquo; salaries, they vary tremendously across regions. A government official['s salary] in Xi'an, my hometown, is very low, but if you go to Shanghai, the salary of an ordinary official is very high. You can call that corruption because it&rsquo;s not in book, at least not in the central government&rsquo;s book. So, you can say that is corruption. But, on the other hand, it has a lot to do with incentivizing government officials. If you do not pay them enough, they&rsquo;re going to be even more corrupt. So, in that sense, I think it&rsquo;s better to institutionalize corruption; if they&rsquo;re corrupt, you&rsquo;ve got to institutionalize, make it on the table, make it transparent, so at least people can say, &quot;Hey, you have that much, but you have more, that&rsquo;s corrupt.&quot;</p>
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Yao Yang talks about how a lot of the reforms that China has gone through in the last 30 years were illegal at the time that they were adopted.