A Modest Proposal

For preventing the Corrupt officials of China from being a Burden to their country's Progress and for making them Beneficial to the Public


It is a melancholy object to travel through this great country of China, and see its provincial cities, towns and villages burdened by the venality of its corrupt local officials. These Party Chiefs, Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries, instead of honest service implementing the well intentioned directives of central authority, rely on fat envelopes and splendid gifts, handed under-table or with excessive ceremony, for comfort beyond what is necessary or appropriate, while their appetite at the table weighs down both themselves and the Nation.

It is surely agreed by all that the number of such functionaries and the extent of their greed is a deplorable state, and a hindrance to the realisation of the China Dream. Whosoever could discover a fair, cheap and easy means to make these officials serve to rather than obstruct the interests of the Public, would deserve a golden statue akin to those erected in rural backwaters for the very purpose of siphoning off funds into well positioned pockets.

Having considered this problem for many years, and weighed the resolve of the current central Leadership to catch "tigers" and "flies" alike [source], I have found all solutions presented or promised grossly lacking in either feasability or fixity of purpose. It is true, more officials have been investigated and punished for malpractice this last year than in recent memory; yet the means with which I propose to deal with them, instead of draining the resources and attention of the State, shall on the contrary contribute to the welfare and nourishment of the People.

The population of China is currently reckoned 1.35 billion. At last count, 82.6 million of that number are members of the Communist Party of China, of which 8% are Party and Government staff, and no more than 3% could be estimated to be in a position to exploit their office for meaningful personal or familial gain. Last year, the discipline inspection Agencies of the Party punished some 182,000 officials nationwide [source]. The question, therefore, is how to prevent those leeches upon the healthy body of the State from consuming resources vastly beyond their needs, while simultaneously providing supplement for the hardworking and deserving majority, whose own resources are both shared and limited.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own solution, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a nutritionist of my acquaintance that a well fed and healthy official is a most delicious and wholesome food, whether stir-fried, stewed, barbequed or boiled; I have no doubt that it will equally serve as a substitute meat for any other number of common dish. I therefore offer it to public consideration that those 182,000 bureaucrats who have been disciplined – naturally, we trust the Party's internal Agencies to identify such undesirable elements accurately and comprehensively – be reserved for distribution or sale.

An official, being of roughly proportionate size to an adult pig, shall provide a feast for 80 people, or if used sparingly should sustain a family of two parents, a child and grandparents for almost a month. As with a pig, no part should be wasted. The ears of an official, when boiled, are I am assured quite tender. The intestines, kidney, heart, feet, hands and bung may all be eaten, and the skin, when flayed and tanned, may be repurposed into a shoulder bag for a gentleman or boots for a lady. The liver should be inspected for damage from an excess consumption of rice wine, and the lungs should be avoided for the certain build-up of cigarette tar within them, though they may still be of use if ground up into medicinal powder.

If properly salted, an official may be kept fresh indefinitely, with chunks sliced off to be diced and eaten in combination with rice or noodles. There will be no need to adjust recipes for home favourites, merely to substitute official for pork, chicken, mutton or beef. Red Braised Official (红烧官) will taste no less good than its pork equivalent, Kung Pao Official (宫保官丁) will surely be a popular favourite, and Official Kebab (官肉串) a most satisfying street food, best washed down with a bottle of beer. Peking Roast Official (烤官), meanwhile, will be a delicacy indeed, and should be made only from officials sourced locally in Beijing.

The symmetry of the scheme is that the very excess with which these corrupt officials have feasted during their time in power will prove an advantage when it is their turn to be on the table. A typical Village Party Branch Secretary is perhaps ten to twenty pounds fatter than an ordinary resident, and the meat is significantly more tender given the lack of hard labour involved in their work, and the quality of nourishment that they have had access to. For these reasons, feasting among officials need not be discouraged, and indeed should be actively encouraged among those under investigation by the disciplinary Authorities.

The question naturally arises of how this treat shall be distributed. As it is the residents of a village or township that most keenly suffer the consequences of a corrupt official's avarice – the central Government has satisfied that corruption is a local vice – I put forward that those very residents should be the ones to enjoy its yield. Namely, a local official subject to disciplinary action should remain local after that discipline is taken, and be distributed free of charge amongst residents – a cut of shoulder here, a rump there – by means of a raffle or lottery. This method is equitable, appropriate to the crime, and reduces delivery costs.

Inevitably for such an in demand commodity, market forces will also be at play. I therefore submit that corrupt officials of a position higher than Township Committe Secretary should be reserved for sale, their meat being the most succulent and fattened. I grant that this food will be somewhat expensive, and therefore proper for businessmen or other officials – although they in turn must be careful not to over-indulge, lest their appetite for former colleagues become the very reason that they themselves are investigated! Following the central Party Leadership's example of official banquets involving no more than "four dishes and one soup" [source], consumption of official at government functions should be restricted to four Deputy Secretaries and one Party Chief.

The advantages of this solution are numerous. Simultaneous to liberating the Nation from the yoke of corrupt officialdom, it saves the State such adminstrative cost otherwise necessary to discipline, imprison or execute those officials, all the while providing a source of food to supplement the strained agricultural resources of this populous land – made less populous and more egalitarian by the selfsame measure. Moreover, the sense of justice served by the Party's disciplinary rigour shall contribute to public goodwill, and may prove a useful method to quell incidents of discontent among the masses, thus contributing to national stability.

Though official shall most be in season at the end of the year, when disciplinary action is most forthcoming, the supply nevertheless is expected to remain steady throughout the year. The offices left vacant shall be filled by subordinates, who in turn shall either serve the People or feed them, should they too prove overly rapacious. This punishment shall furthermore be an excellent incentive for officials to be upstanding, and if the supply of meat made available on the market lessens year on year, we must endure this paucity in the knowledge that the plague of local corruption is being successfully reduced to the benefit of all.

I profess sincerely that I have not the least personal interest in promoting this scheme, with no particular taste for the meat of an official nor any motive other than the public good of the country. I am not so violently bent upon my own solution as to reject any other offered, should it prove equally cheap, easy and effectual. I remain a concerned citizen, eager to see the excess of corrupt officialdom curtailed and its fruits redistributed to the People. As such, I humbly put my proposal forward for the People's consideration.