Tears and tor­toises - Chi­nese TV un­veils graft se­crets

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

With a tale of a dead pet tor­toise given Bud­dhist rites and a se­nior of­fi­cial shed­ding tears for his crimes, state television has be­gun air­ing a doc­u­men­tary that takes view­ers be­hind the scenes of some of China’s most dra­matic cor­rup­tion cases. The eight-part se­ries that kicked off late on Mon­day prom­ises an un­usual warts-and-all ap­proach to re­veal­ing the story be­hind the dirty deals and ex­trav­a­gant life­styles un­cov­ered by graft busters from the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has waged a sweep­ing war on deep-seated cor­rup­tion since as­sum­ing power al­most four years ago, vow­ing to go after pow­er­ful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”.

Three of those “tigers” get cam­era time in the first episode Bai En­pei, the for­mer party boss of southwestern Yun­nan prov­ince; Zhou Ben­shun, an ex-party chief of north­ern He­bei prov­ince and Li Chuncheng, a for­mer deputy party boss of southwestern Sichuan. Bai and Li have both been con­victed, while Zhou awaits trial. The juici­est de­tails come from the probe into Zhou. Against a back­drop of images of a Bud­dhist tem­ple and to the sound of monks chant­ing, the doc­u­men­tary de­scribes Zhou’s in­volve­ment in “su­per­sti­tion”. Party of­fi­cials are not sup­posed to prac­tice re­li­gion and the charge of su­per­sti­tion is of­ten lev­eled against the cor­rupt to fur­ther blacken their names.

Zhou “set his ex­pec­ta­tions upon pro­tec­tion from su­per­nat­u­ral be­ings and was widely in­volved in su­per­sti­tious prac­tices”, the nar­ra­tor says. “After a tor­toise died at his home, he spe­cially had scrip­tures tran­scribed and buried with it.” Zhou even had a nanny for his pets, in­ves­ti­ga­tor Wang Han told the pro­gram. The three dis­graced of­fi­cials all ad­mit­ted their guilt in ap­pear­ances on the show. It was not pos­si­ble to con­firm if they par­tic­i­pated will­ingly, or to reach fam­ily mem­bers or lawyers for com­ment. How­ever, the party views con­tri­tion and con­fes­sion fa­vor­ably, and of­fi­cials have avoided death sen­tences if they are judged to have shown re­morse or co­op­er­ated.

De­scrib­ing his fail­ings, Sichuan’s Li, given a 13year jail term last year, strug­gled and failed to keep back tears. “From a young age I hoped that un­der the lead­er­ship of the party ... I could get progress for so­ci­ety, make the peo­ple happy,” Li said. “In the end, be­cause of my­self, I didn’t get there. I re­ally let the party down. I let the peo­ple down.” The show is called “Al­ways on the Road”, a ref­er­ence to the party’s vow not to re­lax in stamp­ing out cor­rup­tion, and fur­ther rev­e­la­tions are promised later in the week. The first episode was widely dis­cussed on Chi­nese so­cial me­dia, with some say­ing they found Li’s tears the­atri­cal and un­con­vinc­ing.— Reuters

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