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Corruption unearthed in Henan AIDS-stricken villages
(Asian Weekly)
Updated: 2006-01-05 09:00

Now corruption is present whenever opportunities present themselves and the risks of being caught are perceived to be low. So it is really unfortunate that there are abundant opportunities for improper enrichment in the Henan AIDS villages of Shangcai county thanks to the massive influx of financial and material aid flowing in from the national government and private donors.

Premier Wen Jiabao pays a special visit to Gui Xi'en, a noted HIV/AIDS expert, during his inspection tour in central China's Hubei Province, June 11, 2004. [Xinhua]

Dr. Gao Yaojie has condemned what is happening at Wenlou village in Shangcai county. "I have not been to Wenlou village for half a year. If you didn't mention it, I would not want to bring it up. You go and tell your friends and readers not to donate money or material to Wenlou village. This is just a PR project to deceive the public. They even dare to deceive Premier Wen Jiabao. It does not matter how much you donate. This is a 'black hole' and an inscrutablee trap. There are quite a few more 'black holes' in Henan like this one."

But there is hope in that the people are working towards impeaching corrupt officials who take advantage of those who are most in need.

Here is the record so far:

On August 19, Henan province Shangcai County Chinese Communist Party county party committee secretary Yang Song was dismissed

On November 19, Henan province Shangcai County Lugang village secretary Li Wenyu was dismissed

On November 25, Henan province Shangcai County Lugang village mayor Song Haibo was dismissed.

Professor Gao Yaojie discloses corruption involved in anti-AIDS projects in Henan. [sina/file]
On the night when the announcement of Yang Song's dismissal was made, the residents of the county seat went into the streets and set off firecrackers like they do during big festivities. People were handing out flyers to passersby. The locals had given Yang Song the nickname of "Yang Ten Billion" because he was greedy for money, power and women and he did not do his job in AIDS prevention.

Now, we come to the latest and biggest target: 48-year-old Liu Yuemei, Henan province Shangcai County Wenlou village mayor and Chinese Communist Party branch secretary. Here is the progress report on the impeachment process.

There are 29 Chinese Communist Party members in Wenlou village, and 21 of them have signed a letter to demand the dismissal the party secretary as well as her expulsion from party membership.

This letter has been turned over to the county party on December 18. There are about 2,170 or so legal voters in Wenlou village, of which are 1,560 or so are currently residing there. Of these, 308 have already signed a petition to impeach the mayor and the number of signatures is growing everyday.

What did Liu Yuemei do to become so unpopular?

In the spring of 2004, Liu Yuemei was directly appointed by the Lugang Village government to assume the post of Wenlou village party branch secretary. Previously, she became the women's association director in 1995; in 2000, she was the director for village family planning.

In April 2004, a certain foundation in Zhejiang province sent over 80 heat-insulated blankets and 10,000 yuan in cash. At the time, they were received by then party secretary Chen Ruijun and other village cadres.

The money has disappeared, and the blankets were distributed in October 2004 by Liu Yuemei -- sixty-four were given to known persons and the other sixteen were unaccounted for.

On Chinese New Year's eve in 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao made a much publicized trip to Shangcai county to inspect the AIDS prevention work and to spend the Chinese New Year with the villagers.

At Wenlou village, Wen Jiabao told the AIDS patients that they will each receive 10 yuan as New Year present. The village party secretary in conjunction with the brigade leaders filed in for 883 additional persons to obtain additional 8,830 yuan.

But the villagers have no idea where that money went, and they have asked the government to lock up and audit the accounting information for the Shangcai County Lugang Village Civil Affairs Bureau and the Wenlou village party committee.

In March 2005, the Henan provincial government allocated emergency aid for disaster victims to the tune of half a kilogram of basic food per person. On May 20, the county government sent 80 bags of flour to the Lugang village office.

Wenlou village party secretary Liu Yuemei reached an "understanding" with the brigade leaders, by which Liu took 20 bags of flour for herself and the other 60 bags were divided among the brigade leaders. The villagers did not get even a mouthful of flour.

On the next day, a villager named Chen Shunli happened to be at the Lugang village office to get some AIDS subsidy for his children and found out about the flour by accident.

Thus, the story of the flour spread throughout the village. Cheng Siguo, the leader of the 15th brigade, had received two bags of flour himself. Cheng told the reporter: "She is the party secretary. We could not say anything, and we dare not say anything."

Cheng had conscience pangs and has courageously stood up to admit that he took the disaster relief flour and he has reported this incident to the authorities. According to the Chinese law, those who misuse disaster relief material have criminal liability.

Since the beginning of 2004, there have been more than 100,000 yuan in donations to Wencai village from the outside, and it is not clear how the money was used. When party secretary Chen Ruijun left, there was more than 300,000 yuan or so left in poverty aid money, but it is not clear what happened to it.

There are also other issues with the prices of medicines charged by the local hospitals, plus problems of fake and/or dated medicines. When the villagers petitioned at various departments, they were often detained for petitioning beyond the appropriate level.

Finally, under pressure, Wenlou village established an "Public Group for Supervising Village Affairs." Astonishingly, the group consisted of the village party committee members and the group leader was none other than Liu Yuemei.

So while the impeachment process is moving alone, the Yazhou Zhoukan reporter asked to speak to various government officials in Shangcai county. The Chinese Communist Party county committee information department said that it would give no interviews and provide no information.

Furthermore, the reporter is not allowed to contact villagers at will. One information department official actually said: "It is impossible for us to provide any information on what you want to know about. You are too naive to dare to cover such a sensitive topic."

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