Corruption in East Asia
There is a widespread perception around the world that Asian countries are corrupt.1 This perception ﬁlters across the media, academia and the aid community. It is fed by corruption indices and the rocky path of governance reform. The perception is not entirely wrong, but neither is it a fact, let alone a useful guide to understanding or policy intervention. First, Asia is as extensive as the Americas and even more diverse in geographies, cultures and historical trajectories. Second, corruption in the region – though pervasive and resented – is not necessarily the fundamental weakness of governance; it may be a symptom rather than a cause. Third, social and political change is a very long-term, complex process in which moral crusades and hasty interventions often have unpredictable and messy consequences.