money is glorious now (Link, 53).
Another source of corruption was the abuse of funds by state-owned enterprises. In 1994 alone, dining and wining cost the state $18 billion. Thus, according to some people, to end corruption China needed to end state ownership of any part of the economy. This was one of the reasons why the reform prime minister Zhu Rongji pushed for China's joining the World Trade Organization---to push China into a full blown market economy as required by the WTO of its members.
Many Chinese therefore feel uncomfortably sandwiched between the choice of poverty but relatively little corruption in the Mao years and greater economic development but rampant corruption in the post-Mao years.
Government corruption, the job market, and student protest in 1989
Starting in 1987, official state policies stipulated that from then on college students were expected to find their own jobs. The iron rice bowl became a piece of breakable chinaware. Students' search for jobs gave them direct experience of the inequality of the job market, where the children of senior Chinese cadres were often well placed in private companies because of their fathers' positions in the government. For the millions of Chinese college graduates who were suddenly snatched from their secure, privileged positions as college students and thrust into the job market for a Darwinian struggle, especially students who had been educated of social equality under Communism (however untrue that might be) they were furious and felt extremely unfairly treated.
In the preceding ten years, because of China's economic reforms and eagerness to attract foreign investments, the state loosened the ideological grip. Therefore, there were active political debates and intellectual dialogues going on, with many radical elements posting their opinions on a wall in downtown Beijing. It was called the "democracy wall" because of the heated discussions of democracy in these writings. The discontented students and the pro-democracy activists merged in 1989, forming a student movement against "government profiteering," asking for greater political transparency and a more democratically elected government. The students held hunger strikes and staged months of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the center of Beijing. The government felt things were getting out of their control. Even the press, thinking that the initial state dialogues with the students meant the government really was going to open up this time, openly reported on the student movement for days, something unprecedented in Communist Chinese history where the media was the mouthpiece of the state. Finally, on June 3, the government used regular troops to crush the students remaining in Tiananmen Square. Different reports of the dead students and Beijing residents ranged from hundreds to thousands. There was a thorough crackdown on the activists in this political movement after June 4. Most of them were identified from video clips and apprehended. They were jailed, and dozens were executed. Most top student leaders went into hiding and eventually made it to the United States or Europe.
22. China after 1989