China and Turkey are among countries that tumbled the most in a global corruption ranking as they displayed widespread or increased levels of bribery, graft and opacity, Transparency International said.
China fell to 100th place on the list, down from 80th last year, the watchdog group said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Turkey slid to 64th place from 53rd in 2013. Egypt and Afghanistan gained in the ranking, which places the least corrupt countries at the top.
“Economic growth is undermined and efforts to stop corruption fade when leaders and high level officials abuse power to appropriate public funds for personal gain,” Jose Ugaz, the chairman of Berlin-based Transparency International, said of corruption worldwide in an e-mailed statement.
China’s decline in the ranking comes even as President Xi Jinping places fighting corruption at the top of his political agenda since taking the helm of the Communist Party in 2012. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have denied corruption allegations as critics accuse him of cementing authoritarian power and blocking free speech.
The ranking, a composite index that draws from 12 surveys, has become a benchmark gauge of perceptions of a country’s corruption and is used by analysts and investors. The index grades a country on a scale of zero to 100, the latter being the least corrupt. Denmark scored 92 points, Somalia eight.
With 74 points, the U.S. ranked 17th. The U.K. scored 78, placing it 14th on the list. Russia ranked 136th with 27 points. Turkey had 45 points, and China had 36.
Transparency International offered a contrasting view of China, where Xi has vowed to net both “tigers and flies,” parlance for cadres from the top to bottom ranks of the party.
At least 75,000 of the 86 million members of the Communist party have been investigated in Xi’s nationwide campaign, with 27 percent punished, according to the South China Morning Post. Among the most prominent are Zhou Yongkang, a onetime member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee that rules China, and Xu Caihou, former Central Military Commission vice chairman.
In July, Xi’s campaign went beyond China’s borders, with the Fox Hunt campaign targeting corrupt officials who have fled the country. So far, 288 suspects have been detained, the Ministry of Public Security said Nov. 18.
China needs to do more, Transparency said. Even with the prosecutions, “too many corruption cases take place behind closed doors and the manner in which people are prosecuted needs greater transparency,” the group said.
The perception of corruption has increased in Turkey “substantially,” the watchdog said, citing a “crackdown on free speech” and against journalists critical of the government.
Turkish voters in August shrugged off a graft probe into members of Erdogan’s family and cabinet, rewarding him with the presidency after an economic boom during his decade-long premiership. Erdogan purged hundreds of police and judicial officials earlier this year and for a time blocked access to YouTube and Twitter. Last year his administration suppressed anti-government protests that spread from Istanbul’s Gezi Park.
Besides China and Turkey, the countries with the biggest drops in their scores were Rwanda, Malawi and Angola. The biggest gainers included Ivory Coast, Jordan, Swaziland and Mali. More than two-thirds of the 175 countries ranked had scores below 50.
Egypt, where former general Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was elected president in May after last year’s ouster of his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Mursi, climbed to 94th on the list from 114th. It increased its score by five to 37.
Afghanistan, which resolved a post-election standoff after President Ashraf Ghani brought his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, into his administration, left the bottom of the list. The country gained four points for a score of 12.
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