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Public gets look at heart of graft

By ZHANG YAN | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-19 06:36

Blockbuster TV series with tearful confessions and juicy details seen as useful cautionary account

After reading about numerous officials accused of bribery and other forms of corruption, the public is finally hearing from some of the disgraced officials themselves.

An eight-part documentary being aired on national television provides a first full look inside their stories, including tearful expressions of regret and even surprise at their own actions, which brought them a posh life at the public's expense.

At the same time, anti-corruption officials see it as a chance to showcase their work over the past four years, and as a cautionary tale for public servants. It also comes right before a high-level meeting expected to develop stricter rules for CPC members.

"I never expected I would have such an ending," Zhou Benshun, 63, former top Party official of Hebei province, tells the camera. "I was brought up in a poor family. ... I hated corrupt officials since I was young, but I became one in the end." He was placed under investigation in October.

Juicy details also are coming to light, such as bribes in the form of "gifts", like a jade bracelet worth 15 million yuan ($2.2 million) given to Bai Enpei, 70, a former top official in Yunnan province, in exchange for a piece of land.

The series is being aired shortly before the Sixth Plenary Session of the Communist Party of China's 18th Central Committee.

The meeting, to be held Monday through Oct 27, is expected to propose tougher rules for Party members in the form of two draft disciplinary documents-for professional and personal conduct-to be submitted for discussion and approval.

The series, produced by the CPC Central Committee for Discipline Inspection and the national television system CCTV, entitled Corruption Fight Is Always Underway, began airing nightly on Monday at 8 pm on CCTV-1.

It features the cases of about 10 former provincial or ministerial-level officials and one former State leader, Su Rong, former vice-chairman of China's top political advisory body. The interviews were done while the former officials were detained but before any convictions.

The cases of disgraced officials who held higher positions, from former State security chief Zhou Yongkang to former Central Military Commission officers Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, are discussed, though they are not interviewed.

Airing the series before a key national political meeting is "a good opportunity to tell good anti-graft stories and promote building a clean and honest government," said Hong Daode, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law.

Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, a school for training senior officials, said, "After watching the corrupt officials' stories, officials and CPC members will exchange their views on the lessons they will have to learn, and to regulate their own behavior according to the new rules."

The series' production team visited 22 provinces and regions to gather information on more than 10 former top officials linked to more than 40 corruption changes.

They also interviewed 70 experts from home and abroad as well as anti-graft officers to explain the cases and how they were handled.

In the first episode, aired on Monday night, viewers heard from Bai, Zhou, and Li Chuncheng, former deputy Party chief of Sichuan province.

In the second episode, screened on Tuesday, Wan Qingliang, former Party chief of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, and Gu Chunli, former vice-governor of Jilin province, told their stories.

Bai, Li and Wan have been convicted, while Zhou and Gu await trial.

The series has had a big impact.

"After watching the TV series, we know how serious and complex the graft issues are, and (that) it's necessary for the government to carry out a continuous and persistent campaign to target corruption," said Li Wei, an anti-graft officer in Liaoning province.

Zhang Li, a teacher at Beijing No 11 Middle School, said, "It's being shown to reflect the central leadership's resolute determination and the measures taken to fight corruption, which will leave no place for the corrupt suspects to hide and escape."

Since November 2012, when the new leadership took office, anti-corruption has become a top priority, and President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign to target both high- and low-ranking officials. Over 140 senior corrupt officials have been investigated over graft issues, according to the CCDI.


Public gets look at heart of graft

"I deeply regret my actions. As a Party chief trained and educated by the Communist Party of China for so many years, how could I become such (a corrupt official)? I caused huge damage to the Party."

Bai Enpei, 70, former deputy head of the Environment and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress

Bai was convicted of illegally amassing more than 247 million yuan ($37 million) in assets and sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.

According to the recent TV documentary Always on the Road, released by the anti-graft authority, his wife operated as a go-between in soliciting bribes from business people, especially real estate developers who sought land in Yunnan province, where he served as Party chief. One of gifts included a jade bracelet worth 15 million yuan, which was given to Bai after he granted land to a real-estate developer in Kunming. A number of such bracelets were found at Bai's residence, where it took disciplinary officials more than 10 days to count gifts.

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