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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Access money — funneling cash to government officials in return for favors — is the dominant form of corruption in both China and the U.S., according to groundbreaking research by University of Michigan political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang.

Why it matters: Until now, international corruption comparisons were largely confined to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which views corruption as a third-world problem through Western eyes.

For her new book — "China's Gilded Age," published in July — Ang measured corruption in four categories:

  • Petty theft (shaking down people for small bribes) ... grand theft (shaking down businesses for large bribes) ... speed money (paying money to get necessary government approvals) ... and access money (paying money to be able to influence politicians).
  • In both China and the U.S., access money was the dominant mode of corruption.
  • China scores 7.6 out of a maximum 10 on the prevalence of access money; the U.S. scores 6.9 out of 10. By comparison, Singapore scores 3.7 and Ghana scores 5.8.

Go deeper: To see "access money" in action, check out this weekend's N.Y. Times investigation (subscription), which found hundreds of examples of businesses attempting to curry favor with President Trump — often with remarkable success — by spending money at his properties.

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.