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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Yuan stops here!


Like all authoritarian regimes and excessively bureauracratic governments throughout history officials taking personal responsibility for outcomes has not been high on the agenda. From the "I was just following orders" type of thing through to blaming subordinates for all that is wrong has typified such regimes.

In China there have not been too many people willing in the past to stand up and say that the "Yuan stops here"

It is this lack of personal responsibility this lack of "ownership" of outcomes that is at the core of many of China's ills.

The coal mining industry for example that kills upwards of 10,000 people per year through lax mine safety, poor training etc is a prime example of the lack of personal responsibility.

The mine owners do not take the responsibility to ensure safe working conditions, government officials supposedly charged with responsibility of overseeing safety do not take personal responsibility. Graft and corruption is rife in the industry because it is always someone else's responsibility to fix. As a result many people die and countless thousands are hurt or are impacted upon by death and injury.

Countless examples exist where many lives have been lost and mine owners and officials have been able to walk away with nary a slap on the wrist and return back to their old jobs and old ways.

Things may be changing however according to the linked article from the People's Daily. Some corporate and government high fliers have been forced by public opinion of late to fall on their swords and it would appear the general populace are appreciative and want more.

Transparency and accountability should become two by-words for attention by China's leadership and I am sure that the Chinese government can give it some great catchy name like the "Two Principles Theory" or whatever.

Changes along these lines are evident and it is hoped that they can be accelerated.

Will 'take the blame and resign' become a usual practice?