Cleaner Hong Kong

Development Centre

The determined and innovative measures taken by the authorities of Hong Kong Territory are one of the few examples of a government instituting a major anti-corruption programme over a long period. In the space of twenty years or so, the scale of corruption has declined considerably. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), a specialised body separate from the civil service and the police, and reporting directly to the governor, was set up.

It co-ordinates the fight against corruption on three fronts: enforcement, with investigation and prosecution of recent cases of corruption; prevention, by modifying the organisation and culture of the bureaucratic apparatus and by providing advice and assistance to companies on preventing corruption; and educating the population about the evils of corruption. All types of corruption were targeted: both public and private corruption, and “petty” and “high-level” corruption. Lastly, and most importantly, the strategy brought together the authorities and the business community, and the support of the population was constantly enlisted.

The campaign has borne fruit, earning kudos recently from Transparency International who applauded the relatively “clean” construction of the Hong Kong airport and its massive infrastructure. The US$20 billion project was carried out between 1991 and 1998 with a minimum of corruption, yet on schedule and, more importantly, within budget. Hong Kong is now largely seen as intolerant towards corruption. And the public and business no longer seem to consider it as part of everyday life. The ICAC appears to have benefited from these improvements too, with opinion polls showing the public overwhelmingly in favour of its anti-corruption initiatives.


Źde Speville, Bertrand, Hong Kong: Policy Initiatives Against Corruption, OECD Development Centre, 1997.

©OECD Observer No 220, April 2000

Economic data

GDP growth: -1.8% Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Consumer price inflation: 0.9% Apr 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -4.3% exp, -3.9% imp, Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Unemployment: 8.4% Apr 2020
Last update: 9 July 2020

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