On the first day of China’s school term (1 September), Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolitan Daily interviewed some primary one kids about their life-goals. One of them told the journalist that her dream was to “become an official”. When the journalist asked what kind of official she wanted to be, she replied that she wanted to “become a corrupt official. Corrupt officials have a lot of good stuff.”
The video is now in the youtube, the face of the girl has been blurred:
This reply made its rounds on Chinese media and blogs. Some think that it is just a random comment by a child, but many hold the view that it is a reflection of the society’s reality. A forum in ifeng shows some typical comments:
rviflss 2009-9-4 14:16: 童言无忌
We shouldn't take Children's words too seriously.
joanna-jin 2009-9-4 12:46: 可悲可恨啊，越长大越了解社会的黑暗
It makes one sad and angry, the more you grow up, the more you come to know about the dark side of the society.
I think that children nowadays know what is the reality. The values taught at school are empty. If you follow the principles learned at school and try to survive in society, then your only fate will be to go back home.
In the story of Emperor’s New Clothes, only a child speaks of the truth. Teachers, don’t cheat yourself anymore. Starting from primary school, you guys are teaching children to become corrupt officials and businessmen.
Active internet writer Shihua (施化), in a recent article, comments about the school girl’s reply, and attributes China’s widespread phenomenon of corruption to an unlimited “National Public Power”:
This six-year old has said what adults don’t dare to say. This reply has two facts. Firstly, only officials have the power to corrupt; there are only corrupt officials but nothing like corrupt citizens. Secondly, to enjoy material well-being in China, the best way is to become an official.
贪污必须先做官，也就是行使国家公权力。但是，国家公权力（National Public Power）指的是公共权力，而不是国家机构自己的权力。也就是说，公权力强调的不是国家行政对社会、对人民的“管理”，而是对人民神圣不可侵犯的私有权力的保护。
To engage in corruption, you first has to become an official, i.e. the exercise of national public power. But national public power means power of the public, not power of government’s institutions. National public power is not a control by the government over the public and the citizen; it is a protection over their private power.
Because China has practiced a socialist and planned economic system for a long time, private property and rights cannot develop on its own. Public power and regulations are the dominating concepts… All actions of the citizens and business have to be approved by the state; the state has unlimited power. Therefore, national public power, originally intended to protect private rights, extends its hand of greed and corruption to the private sphere.
When national public power is not formed by a democratic process, but controlled by a single dominant political party, its meaning will be instantly eroded. Corruption co-exists with an over-exercise of national public power, but rarely with private power.
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