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History novel writer counts anti-graft chief among fans

By An Baijie (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-03-07 09:13:33


Writer Ling Jiefang, better known by his pen name February River, has a large number of readers and fans. Among them is Wang Qishan, head of the top anti-graft watchdog.

Ling, 70, a deputy to the National People's Congress, is famous for his novels based on the history of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). He attracted further attention last March when he met Wang during the NPC's annual session.

"I have read his books about Chinese emperors carefully," Wang told NPC deputies when the two spoke. "I know him, more than he knows me."

Ling told the head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that because of corruption, the 4 million-strong army of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was defeated by 130,000 soldiers led by the founders of the Qing Dynasty.

"When Chong Zhen (the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty) tried to escape, none of his officials opened the door for him."

Ling told China Daily on Wednesday that Wang is a respected leader who displays both courage and wisdom in the battle against corruption.

"The current anti-corruption measures are stricter than those of any other period in Chinese history," he said.

"This reflects the firm determination of the Communist Party of China."

His comments followed Monday's announcement that 14 senior military officers are being probed over graft allegations. In another case, Jing Chunhua, a senior provincial-level official from Hebei province, was placed under investigation on Tuesday.

Last year, a total of 42 senior officials at or above ministerial level were investigated. In 2013, the number of senior officials probed was 17. Before that, six to eight senior officials were investigated for corruption annually on average.

"The anti-graft measures are as sharp as knives and axes," Ling said.

The CCDI last year invited Ling to give suggestions, based on his extensive knowledge of Chinese history, on how the anti-graft operations should proceed.

"I am not an official, nor do I have any experience of fighting corruption. My job is writing, and I just shared my thoughts on Chinese history," he said.

"Corruption is like diabetes. It can develop undetected because it is painless.

"Diabetes itself is not lethal, but the complications it causes can lead to death. It is the same with corruption."