Despite a well-publicized campaign to combat graft and crack down on corrupt public officials, China has lost the shine on its halo, being labeled more corrupt this year than it was in 2013.
China posted one of the worst rises in corruption of any country in this year's "Corruption Perceptions Index" by lobbying group Transparency International. The country dropped to 100th out of 175 countries, from 80th in 2013.
"The (Chinese) government has recognized the need to follow officials who hide ill-gotten gains overseas," said Transparency International in its report, out Wednesday.
"This January, leaked documents revealed 22,000 offshore clients from China and Hong Kong, including many of the country's leaders."
Transparency International ranked countries in order of how "clean" or "corrupt" they were in in relation to others. Indicators of corruption included bribery and a lack of punishment for crimes, unresponsive public institutions and opaque government.
Only in Turkey did corruption worsen more than in China, with Angola, Malawi and Rwanda all deteriorating by a similar amount to the world's most populous country.
Denmark came out as the "cleanest" country, followed by New Zealand and neighboring Nordic countries, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Afghanistan and Jordan were among the top improvers.
The most corrupt countries in the world were North Korea and Somalia. Russia showed only a small uptick in corruption, but remained lowly ranked in joint 136 place.
"Countries at the bottom need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favor of their people. Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don't export corrupt practices," said José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, in the report.
"Grand corruption in big economies not only blocks basic human rights for the poorest but also creates governance problems and instability."
One way to reduce corruption is to increase the number of companies using public registers, said Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International, as this would "make it harder for the corrupt to take off with the spoils."
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The corruption index came after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its Foreign Bribery Report on Tuesday. The OECD analyzed over 400 cases of bribery and found that roughly half of these involved input from CEOs or corporate management. A total of only 261 fines were enforced on companies and individuals involved in the cases.