Corruption and Anti-Corruption Research in China: A Critical Review of Chinese Top Journal Publications (1989–2017)

Na Tang, Zi Ding, Yanni Xu


This article synthesizes a cross-disciplinary literature review of 205 articles from Chinese top journals and presents a comprehensive picture of corruption and anti-corruption research in a non-Western setting. By attempting to describe how corruption negatively affects the public administration and how improved public administration can mitigate corruption, this study finds that the Chinese research is gradually shifting from qualitative analysis to quantitative research but that empirical research needs to be developed further. In addition, in the review, human greed, economic transition, institutional omissions, a weak civil society, and social and cultural traditions are found to be the main causes of corruption in China. The effect of corruption on economic development differs on the basis of the institutional situation and social environment, but the influence of corruption on social stability and public satisfaction with the government is often negative in China. In addition, the anti-corruption mechanism has changed from the campaign against corruption (1950s–1980s) to institutionalized anti-corruption (1990s) and finally to anti-corruption through new media platforms (since the 2000s). Evaluations of anti-corruption effects are still lacking in China, especially in empirical studies. The following three aspects deserve further study: (1) the corruption mechanisms, (2) the impact of the establishment of new state institutions on anti-corruption, and (3) the relationship between political factors and anti-corruption efforts in China.


corruption; anti-corruption; economic development; literature review; China

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