Officials' Luxury Watches Set Off Alarms

A survey of officials’ luxury watches has been censored on Sina Weibo, despite attracting praise from Xinhua for its inventive unmasking of corruption: the watches’ enormous price tags strongly suggest “alternative” streams of income. From the AFP:

The idea for the survey came to the activist, who identified himself to AFP as “Daniel Wu”, after a deadly high-speed rail crash in July in eastern China which killed 40 people and prompted a storm of public outrage.

In a report on the accident, the activist noticed the railways minister Sheng Guangzu wearing a 70,000 yuan Rolex and one of his deputies, Lu Dongfu, sporting a 50,000 yuan model.

In a commentary Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency paid a roundabout tribute to “Huaguoshanzongshuji,” ["General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain"] saying the fight against corruption “should follow” his method.

“A simple watch can reveal the hidden corruption of some greedy officials and it shows that corruption leaves its mark,” it warned.

And from The Telegraph:

Most embarrassing of all were pictures of China’s new railways minister, Sheng Guangzu, who according to the research was photographed wearing watches worth a total of 400,000 yuan (almost £40,000 [or about US$62,500]) in a series of pictures dredged up from Google Images.

Among the glittering timepieces identified by the activist when he zoomed in for a closer look at Mr Sheng’s wrist were a Rolex Oyster Perpetual DateJust worth £7,300, a Paget Altiplano worth £7,000 and an Omega Constellation worth nearly £3,000.

Mr Sheng, a former head of Customs in China, was only appointed in February after the previous railways minister Liu Zhijun, was arrested and investigated for corruption, with reports in China’s official media alleging he had taken up to £95m in bribes.

September 19, 2011 11:32 PM
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