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A shutdown is not the cure

By Zhang Jin (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-02 15:56
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On the surface of it, Beijing's effort to close thousands of liaison offices run by local governments in the Chinese capital (Click for the news)– at least some believed to be fertile ground for corruption - should be winning big ovations.

The shutdown order, formally announced on Jan 29, came after reports of corruption involving liaison offices and their contacts with decision-makers in Beijing.

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However, the move is a typical act of what traditional Chinese medical practitioners call “addressing symptoms instead of root causes”. With this policy alone, Beijing’s wish to uproot corruption within these offices can not be achieved.

Indeed, these offices can continue to work under a variety of names such as alumni associations.

Worse, more of these outlets that are asked to shut down will easily escape the dragnet by not registering as an office, making supervision an even harder task, if not a mission impossible.

What is more, the order was a drastic move that turned a blind eye to the positive roles that liaison offices have played in representing local and central governments, promoting local cultures and creating new business opportunities.

At least, restaurants operated by these offices often offer a pleasant option for the palate of Beijing residents.

Let’s not give up the farmland just because weeds are growing on it.