Friday, October 31, 2014
6

中国的精英政治神话

发自加利福尼亚州克莱蒙特——政治丑闻有时能起到涤荡政府的宝贵作用。这些事件能毁掉那些人品可疑者的政治生涯。更重要的是,它们还能揭穿那些构建了某些政权合法性的政治神话。

上述说法似乎也适用于中国近期发生的薄熙来事件。而与这位前重庆市市委书记一同陨落的则是一个经久不衰的政治神话,认为中国共产党的统治是构建于精英政治之上的。

薄熙来在许多方面都符合中国人对“政治精英”的定义——受过良好教育,聪明睿智,行事老练,而且富有个人魅力(主要在西方政商界人士看来)。但在他倒台后呈现的却是一幅截然不同的图景。除了牵涉其中的各项罪名以外,据说薄熙来还是个冷酷无情,志大才疏的共产党官僚。作为一个地方官来说他的政绩平平无奇。

薄熙来的得势在很大程度上来自其家世(其父薄一波曾任副总理),其政治赞助者还有他对游戏规则的操纵。比如说到重庆参观的人都惊叹于薄熙来执政期间如雨后春笋般拔地而起的高楼大厦和现代化基础设施,不知道的却是该政府其实是依赖借贷来资助这场建设狂潮,其总额相当于该市GDP总额的50%有余,而且其中大部分都将无法偿还。

不幸的是,薄熙来事件在中国可不是孤例。与当前流行于西方(尤其是商界领袖之间)的观念恰恰相反,当前的中国政府中充斥着像薄熙来这样机灵的官僚,而他们之所以能占据这些位置,就是通过撒谎,腐败,送礼以及捏造事实。

而其中一个最明显的系统性欺骗行为,就是许多中国官员都利用假冒或者循不正常途径取得的学历文凭来粉饰自己的简历。由于教育成就被认为是一项加分条件,因此官员们都争相获取更高学位以便在未来的权力斗争中占得先机。

其中大部分官员最终都通过业余学习或者党校拿到了博士学位(硕士学位在这场政治军备竞赛中已经起不到任何作用了)。在拥有250名成员的中国共产党中央委员会(这是一个包含中共首脑和地方省市大员的精英团体)中,有60人声称自己拥有博士学位。

没错,只有其中10人是在成为官员前获得博士学位的。其他人则是通过在繁重的政府本职工作之余参加业余学习获得的学位(大部分都是经济,管理,法律和工业工程类)。其中一位仅仅用了21个月就拿到了学位,这简直是一个不太可能实现的成就,因为在大多数国家的博士项目中,不算学位论文,单就课程来说就得花费两年。如果那么多的中国高级官员都能公然捞取可疑的文凭且无需承担任何后果,可想而知其他形式的腐败该有多么广泛。

另一个用来判断一名中国官员所具备的“长处”的评估手段就是此人推动经济增长的能力。表面上看,这似乎是一个客观的尺度。但在现实中,GDP增长就跟官员的学历一样可供捏造。

夸大本地经济增长数字的做法是如此流行,以致把这些数字加起来往往会高于国家总体增长数字——这在数学上显然是行不通的。而即便他们没有对数字做手脚,地方官员也可以用另一种方式来钻系统的空子。

由于在升迁之前只会在当地执政一段相对较短的时间(各城市市长平均不超过3年),中国官员承受着极大的压力,必须在短时间内展现出自己取得经济成效的能力。对此一个屡试不爽的手段就是利用金融杠杆,一般通过出售土地或者以土地作为抵押品来从“乐善好施”的国有银行处搞到大笔贷款,以此资助大规模基础设施项目,正如薄熙来在重庆的所作所为。

这些官员因此获得了升职,因为他们实现了迅速的GDP增长。但因此产生的经济和社会成本都非常高昂。各地方政府都背负着堆积如山的债务和无效投资,银行里坏账不断增加,而农民们则失去了土地。

更糟糕的是,随着中国官僚系统中向上爬的斗争逐渐升级,连假冒文凭和GDP增长记录都不足以让他们更进一步。而一个官员的升迁前景则日渐取决于他所拥有的关系。

根据对地方官员的调查,送礼(而不是积累优点)已经成为官员委任过程中的最关键因素。对那么没有关系的人来说,唯一的办法就是通过贿赂来获得委任或者是升迁。在中国俗语中这种做法被称为“买官”。而官方媒体中则充斥着这类腐败丑闻。

鉴于这种系统性的败坏,只有很少中国人相信自己的治理者们是最优秀和最聪明的。但令人震惊的是这个中国精英政治神话却在西方人中广为流传——因为他们碰到的多是薄熙来这样仿佛拥有众多优点,令人过目难忘的中国官员。而如今也是时候埋葬这一神话了。

翻译:邹痴成

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  1. CommentedTenzin Namdhak

    As far as i am concerned the cases of politicial and social factors influenciing one's position is quite common all over the world and i am not inche moved with the article written by Mr. Pei about Mr. Bo. But i think this cases of political forces mingling with the promotion is quite popular in one party nation like China. We have seen the case of the Presidnet of Russia, Mr. Putin obtaining his Ph.d thesis without actually doing it. So i think these cases are prevalent in Authoritarian nation.

  2. CommentedShiang Peow Foo

    Mr. Pei's comments on many senior Chinese officials use fradulent or dubious academic degrees are his conjecture. Where are his factual evidence to back his statement other than guesswork and speculation based on his observations? I respect freedom of opinion, but there must be limits to such freedom. Also, I am utterly disappointed that, as a FULL Professor in an acclaimed university, he should know better than to provide unsubstantiated written opinion. Worse still, Project Syndicate should have vetted before publishing such sloppy work.

  3. CommentedGabriel Cozmin

    The argument is that the world community is naive and unaware of Chinese corruption and lack of meritocracy. But it is the writer of the article who is naive by implying that China is somehow especially non-meritocratic.
    Reality tells us that there's one more myth to be busted, if we are at this topic. The myth of Western meritocracy or indeed of meritocracy of any kind. Decades of world-wide neoliberalism has lead to a complete erosion of moral standards and integrity in the whole world. Does the case of Japan really differ from that of China? Does South Koreea really excel in integrity and merit when we hear all the corrupt deals that are happening there? How about Britain, where we can see Murdoch's monumental influence in politics and business?

    The argument for Bo's inefficiency are hilarious. If Mr Minxin Pei believes that those are failures, I would like to invite him to take a look at Europe and their incentive-based meritocratic political system. Also take a deep look at the private sector and its meritocratical values, also its spending&borrowing patterns, and then the bailout successes. And the political lobbying. The media in britain, italy and pretty much all europe, the financial sector in britain, iceland, greece.. you name it. Are these countries beams of meritocracy and integrity to compare them with shady China?

    The educational system in China abounds of corruption and apparatchiks. No degree of comparison between this and Europe, where the academia has been left at the expense of the private sector. In these advanced western neoliberal societies academics win an extra buck by supporting neoliberal theories of blissful deregulation, being on the payroll of huge corporations (financial, military corporations, Stratfor) and by having an impeccable conduct when assessing students. Especially in Britain, where the children of the aristocracy - ancient and modern alike - reach all of them at the best of the best universities. Their performance is magnificent and at no way to be equaled by commoners, who have way less chances of ever being admitted to Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, St Andrews than pure-blooded Bullingdon club destined younglings.

    The reality is hidden in what is not discussed in this article. The ideological orientation of Bo Xilai as a hard-line leftist with a strong powerbase is especially interesting. In other words, the Communist Party of China ousted a big chunk of its left wing in an affair that also involves British intelligence. It also launched a huge media campaign in online and print to control the information flow and to assess the feedback of the news.
    But we'll call it a "valauable function in cleansing governments". It is somehow moral, since its some bad chinese communists involved, to consider "cleansing individuals of dubious character" a positive act, rather than one that should be analysed to see if that's all it is.

    The use of Chinese terms for corruption and office buying has a magical force. I have seen it in relations to many countries in the Balkans for example. But corruption is a very bad concept, it almost magically incorporates all a societies' illnesses and unites them in one symbol.

  4. Commentedjames durante

    I wonder if there is a parallel of sorts in the so-called financial industry. Consider the JP MOrgan Chase exec, Ina Drew, who recently stepped down in the $2b trading fiasco. She earned $10m in 2010 despite being on medical leave and 40% more, $14 mil, in 2011. Now we are told that the big loss was a result of sloppiness, obvious miscalculations, and a failure of adequate oversight. She will resign with a generous golden parachute I'm sure.

    Either way, as in China, it's a system that allows for great profit-taking without any real risk. In any large bureaucracies people rise to their level of incompetence. Raking off the value created by labor in the name of party expertise (China) or management expertise (the west), ultimately it's the same thing.

  5. CommentedEdward Campbell

    Shouldn't a professor of history be capable of reflecting upon a culture's history? A nation with a stolid history of stability being the first order of business every morning generally relies on the people they know - rather than the people who just graduated to positions of influence.

    That's neither a positive or negative - though the latter would be the tendency in my eyes.

      CommentedSean Su

      I had no idea that China had a "stolid history of stability" when that history is racked with 4,000 years worth of wars, civil wars, riots, and revolutions. It's all covered in China's various famous historical texts, each half a dozen times thicker than the average Christian Bible.

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