In its recent anti-corruption campaign, China removed the criminal immunity originally enjoyed by its leaders. Absent fundamental changes in the political institution—in which incumbent leaders, instead of citizens at large, select the next leaders—such a partial reform pays off only if (i) it takes place at the “right” time, (ii) it goes easy on corrupt low-rank officials, and (iii) the government is reasonably centralized. Failing any of these, such a partial reform would lead to rampant corruption throughout the government hierarchy—an outcome far worse than retaining leader immunity.
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- Hostage motive
- Leader immunity
- Party elites