China’s 46 Million Bureaucrats Worries Ruling Elite

China’s bloated army of 46m bureaucrats worries ruling elite (London Telegraph)

China now has 46 million government bureaucrats, new statistics revealed yesterday, a number almost as great as the entire population of England. While the country is used to outdoing the rest of the world for sheer numbers, the explosion in officialdom is alarming its ruling Communist Party. Its excessive and corrupt bureaucracy was regarded as one of the principal causes of the decline of imperial rule. Yet there are now 35 times as many people on the government payroll, even as a proportion of the population, than at the time of the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. Corruption aside, today’s civil servants are also expensive, requiring official cars, holidays masquerading as training sessions and receptions. All in all, the cost to the nation, before salaries, amounted to £50 billion, according to state media.

The figures were disclosed by Ren Yuling, a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a parliamentary advisory body. “The contingent of bureaucrats in China is expanding at an unprecedented speed,” he said. A separate study showed that the average cost of an official car was eight times that of using taxis. Only a third of all journeys were on government business — the rest were for personal use by the official or his driver.

Yesterday’s disclosures were not the great step forward in parliamentary accountability they might appear. They fit squarely with a drive by the new party leadership to assert greater control over local government, where most of the bloated ranks of officials are to be found.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sammler says:

    46 million self-enriching drones — it’s almost magnificent. When I visited China (in 1998), in one of the southern cities we ended up hiring a government car for a day tour. Somehow I doubt that our payment went to the Chinese government.

  2. DC Loser says:

    What goes around comes around. The Communist party is becoming the establishment that it sought to overthrow. It routinely abuses the peasants and workers, making them no different than the “class enemies” the communists sought to overthrow.

  3. McGehee says:

    The Communist party is becoming the establishment that it sought to overthrow.

    “Is becoming”…?