Chang Ping: Perks for the Pups of State Power

China Media Project translates a piece by Chang Ping, who was recently dismissed from the Southern Daily Group, on in local Chinese politics:

In many of these cases, local governments respond by saying they have hired or appointed young political elites in “strict accordance with regulations.” Further scrutiny reveals, however, that these local “regulations” themselves were tailored to rationalize the hiring of this or that favored young candidate.

In our everyday lives, we see special treatment for China’s guan er’dai happening as a matter of course. This is something we’ve all just grown accustomed to. In some cases, we have even seen officials pulling strings to ensure they are succeeded in their posts by sons or daughters. Most often, though, these arrangements are a tit-for-tat process of exchange among officials holding positions in different corners of power — so that a police official, for example, arranges for the child of a court official to get a post inside the police department, while the opposite arrangement is made for his own child.

Why are these arrangements permitted at all? When our media do ask this question, the answer that comes back from government personnel departments is that there is a need to “ensure stability in the civil service.”

The real reason is much more basic than that. Given a routine and universal lack of real checks on the exercise of power in China, it’s foolish to imagine officials wouldn’t use the power at their disposal to ensure the path is smoothed for their children. China has a long and deep tradition placing great importance on family relationships. Why would government officials, whom we know to behave recklessly over such trifling matters as food and drink, refrain from doing their utmost for the welfare of their children?

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