China Sentences Notorious Gang ‘Godmother’ (Updated)
AP has the latest on the corruption crackdown in Chongqing, with the sentencing of the “godmother” of the criminal underworld, who reportedly kept a luxury villa and “a stable of 16 young lovers,” including her driver who was also sentenced:
Her criminal reign ended Tuesday when Xie Caiping, 46, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for running illegal casinos and bribing government officials. Her trial was one of a series of gang prosecutions in the southwestern city of Chongqing that have featured lurid testimony about sex, corruption and the violent underworld.
Xie is the only female gang boss to be tried as part of a monthslong crackdown on local gangs, known as “black societies,” in the sprawling southwestern megacity of 30 million. The trials have exposed the tangled web of links between government officials and police officers who sought to provide cover for the crime syndicates.
See also a report from Xinhua.
…Like all big corruption cases in China, this one is as much about politics as graft. The political machine in Chongqing, a province-size mega-city of 31 million people in the southwest, has been broken up by a new Communist Party boss, Bo Xilai, who is the son of a revolutionary party veteran and has his eye on higher office.
Mr. Bo, a former trade minister sent to Chongqing to burnish his managerial credentials, has conducted the crackdown in a way that appears devised to maximize national attention. The drawn-out nature of the trial and the release of lurid details of the criminal syndicate have given him a reputation as a leading corruption fighter, though the inquiry has yet to implicate any really high-ranking party officials.
So far six people have been sentenced to death. Ms. Xie got off relatively lightly, receiving an 18-year prison term on Tuesday.
How Mr. Bo’s performance is regarded by the party elite is a matter of speculation. There are some suggestions that his swagger, including boastful comments to the news media, strikes some fellow officials as excessive. Anticorruption campaigns by China’s one-party state are generally calibrated to show resolution in tackling venality, but also to reassure the public that whatever problems are uncovered are localized and effectively contained.