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What some call corruption in China, others think is good business in America.


JPMorgan is currently under investigation by the U.S. government for hiring the children of powerful Chinese officials in an effort to win business there. According to Andrew Ross Sorkin, if JPMorgan's Chinese hiring practices are found to have run afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices act, it will send "shudders" through Wall Street:

Virtually every firm has sought to hire the best-connected executives in China and, more often than not, they are the â??princelings,â? the offspring of the ruling elite.

But hey, that's China, where corruption is how business gets done, right? Not quite. Here's Sorkin again:

But hiring the sons and daughters of powerful executives and politicians is hardly just the province of banks doing business in China: it has been a time-tested practice here in the United States.

Sorkin goes on to extol the virtues of letting America's own "princelings" staff the ranks of powerful institutions because they're just so super-smart and well-connected. What the U.S. would prosecute as corruption in another country, Sorkin suggests, is actually good business in America.

What's ironic is that we've also learned this week that China is concerned with the possibility that Western ideas will penetrate their society and undermine faith in one party rule. From the looks of Sorkin's apologia, China's already got the hang of American meritocracy.

(AP Photo)