Old wine in new bottles : A county-level case study of anti-corruption reform in the People's Republic of China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Hon S. Chan
  • Jie Gao


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-117
Journal / PublicationCrime, Law and Social Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


This paper examines the role of the target-based responsibility system for building upright Party style and clean government in combating corruption in local China. It argues that the effectiveness of the target-based responsibility system in corruption control is compromised by a number of implementation hurdles in practice. Based on a close examination of one county, Shaanxi Province in the northwest China, this study shows that low measurability of the targets, the conflict between anti-corruption work and other evaluation targets, and the impact of patronage politics account for the implementation failure of the target-based responsibility system. The fundamental problem lies in that under China's unified cadre personnel management system, political will can interfere with the handling of corruption on a case-by-case basis, no matter what kind of anti-corruption mechanism is employed. Under this context, the adoption of the target-based responsibility system in fighting corruption results in nothing more than "pouring old wine into new bottles." © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.