This is the third post of a new series on the Development Channel, "This Week in Markets and Democracy." Each Friday, CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program, will highlight the week’s noteworthy events and articles.
Anticorruption Campaign in China
This Thursday, China’s anticorruption campaign reached a new level, sentencing for the first time a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party of China’s executive body. Zhou Yongkang, also ex-domestic security chief, received a life sentence for accepting $118,000 in bribes and leaking state secrets. Since 2012, over 400,000 high- and low-ranking Chinese officials have been disciplined and over 200,000 prosecuted for graft related infractions. The U.S. Department of State has even agreed to extradite about 150 Chinese officials wanted for corruption. President Xi Jingping has explicitly outlined bribery prohibitions for bureaucrats and required officials and their families to disclose financial assets and income.
Anticorruption efforts date back to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. But, as CFR’s Elizabeth Economy points out, Xi’s campaign is singular; it has been swift and broad reaching. With bribery and influence peddling endemic, Xi’s campaign has the potential to reduce graft. Yet, the reforms are also a means for Xi to consolidate political power.
Mediterranean Migration Crisis
The European Union (EU) announced this week that it will delay its formal comprehensive response to the Mediterranean migration crisis until the fall. In the last six months, over 100,000 refugees and migrants traversed the Mediterranean to Europe. So far, nearly 2,000 have perished en route (including 1,000 who drown off the coast of Italy in April), and the International Organization for Migration predicts the number could rise to 30,000 by year end.
The sticking point seems to be how to redistribute migrants across EU member-states, reducing the disproportionate burden that Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece bear. Eastern countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic, argue that they don’t have the state capacity and resources to take in and attend to refugees. France and other more affluent states are concerned that redistribution quotas won’t take into account migrant and refugee populations already living within their borders. With no resolution, naval search and rescue patrols are left to stave off further tragedies.
World Day Against Child Labor
Today, the International Labor Organization (ILO) marks World Day Against Child Labor with calls for governments to deliver free, quality education for children and to enforce minimum employment age laws. Currently, over 100 million primary and secondary school age children are out of school, and 168 million are child laborers. Excluded partially or wholly from education, child laborers are more likely to face difficult employment prospects later in life, a recent ILO study shows. Previous research has identified household poverty as a primary driver of child labor, compounded by conflict and crisis. As long as poverty and conflict persist, so too will these practices.
Turkish Election Results
On Sunday, predictions that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) would win Turkey’s parliamentary election, paving the way to constitutional reforms that would concentrate more political power in Erdogan’s hands, failed. Instead, the AKP lost its majority in Parliament, beat by pro-Kurdish and nationalist parties. This loss is particularly notable as it seemed that nothing would stop Erdogan’s bid to consolidate power. For insight into how the electoral upset will play out in Turkey, read Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies Steven Cook’s analysis.