China says some officials plead poverty to hide corruption

Zhou Benshun was Communist Party boss in the northern province of Hebei until he was accused of corruption in July.
Zhou Benshun was Communist Party boss in the northern province of Hebei until he was accused of corruption in July. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Some Chinese officials have become experts at pretending to live frugal, exemplary lives while actually being dissolute individuals with often huge hidden wealth, a state-run newspaper said on Friday (Dec 18), warning the government would root them out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has embarked on a massive campaign against deeply ingrained corruption since taking office three years ago, warning, like others before him, that the problem could threaten the Communist Party's grip on power.

Thousands of officials have been investigated, many for only small infractions.

During the course of the many routine probes into government departments, investigators have started discovering the web of lies some corruption suspects use to try and evade punishment, the official Discipline and Supervision Daily said.

This includes faking identity cards and pretending to be in favour of fighting corruption when actually the opposite is true, said the newspaper, which is published by the graft watchdog.

"As the anti-corruption struggle continues to deepen ... some officials have put on a false facade, hoping to have a safe landing," it said. "Their families have millions in cash and they insist on riding a bike to work. They laud being honest and upright, but then go to clubs and stuff themselves," the newspaper said.

Some of the worst cases involve top officials who have made a name for themselves praising the corruption fight and yet end up being bought down for it, the paper said, such as Zhou Benshun, who was Communist Party boss in the northern province of Hebei until sacked and accused of corruption in July.

Zhou liked saying things like "If the whole family is corrupt then the whole family will end up crying", the report said, but those who think they can get away with it will be"destroyed".

Dozens of senior officials have been jailed during Xi's graft crackdown.

In the latest case, a former vice governor of the southern province of Jiangxi, Yao Mugen, was jailed for 13 years on Friday (Dec 18) for bribery, a court in the southeastern city of Xiamen, where he was tried, said on its official microblog.