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Leading by bribing: evidence from China

Shaomin Li (Department of Management, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 6 June 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021




This study examines a new type of corruption that has not previously been studied but that significantly affects the world. Traditionally, corruption has referred to individuals or organizations that bribe state officials. The author examines a phenomenon in which the briber is actually the government of a country that bribes the rest of the world in order to gain influence and propose a framework to explain it.


A multi-case qualitative method is used to compile and analyze evidences and develop my arguments. Specifically, the author compiles information on and analyzes the Confucius Institutes, the training of future foreign leaders, influencing the influencers, the Thousand Talents Plan, the Belt and Road Initiative and foreign aid.


The findings reveal the existence of state-sponsored bribery of the world.

Social implications

State-sponsored bribery is a threat to the world. Recognizing it is the first step to curb it. Reducing the bribery by China's state will benefit the world and China.


State-sponsored bribery is originally defined and documented. A framework about the motivations and capabilities of state-sponsored bribery is proposed, the effects of and responses to such a bribery are reviewed, and policies to curb it are suggested.



The author thanks Matthew Farrell, William Judge, and David Selover for their comments and suggestions.


Li, S. (2021), "Leading by bribing: evidence from China", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 16 No. 6, pp. 1026-1047.



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