Drawing the News: I’d Do It All Again
It’s tough out there for a government official in China. Cartoonist Dashixiong (@大尸凶的漫画) gives voice to the hardships one public servant endures in order to fulfill his duty.
Maotai liquor flows freely at official banquets, and is often traded for social currency. Caixin reported early last year that “the brand value of Maotai is not supported by real market demand but speculation and government spending.” Before leaving office, former prime minister Wen Jiabao announced a ban on using public funding for Maotai, which sent the prize plummeting last summer. Now, to skirt Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts, officials are decanting Maotai into water bottles.
Chinese officials often claim whistleblowers have “ulterior motives.”
Despite what should be meager salaries, public servants have been spotted driving Audis and sporting Rolex watches. A Shaanxi official lost his job last summer after he was photographed grinning at the scene of a traffic accident. Netizens found images of Yang Dacai wearing at least 11 different luxury watches, earning him the nickname “Watch Brother.” After last month’s earthquake, a Sichuanese Party secretary tried perhaps too hard to avoid Yang’s fate–his watch tan gave him away.
Officials have been caught red-handed with multiples of all these items; the hukou, or household registration, is perhaps the most egregious. The hukou system marks people as rural or urban residents. Rural migrants live illegally in China’s cities, surviving without any social services. So netizens were livid this January when the “house sisters” were found owning multiple properties–under multiple hukou.
Last November, a 12-second sex tape of Chongqing official Lei Zhengfu surfaced online, leading to jokes about the man’s stamina, as well as his removal from office. Zhao Hongxia secretly taped herself having sex with Lei and other officials as blackmail. She could now face up to 15 years in prison.
Upon learning of industrial pollution of a river in his hometown of Rui’an, businessman Jin Zengmin challenged local Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Bao Zhenming to swim in the river for 20 minutes. Jin offered 200,000 yuan (about US$32,414) if Bao took on the dare [zh]. But Bao insisted that the garbage in the river came from residents, not factories.
This February, investigative journalist and social activist Deng Fei asked his Weibo followers to take pictures of the waterways in their hometowns as they returned for the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). This lead him to the case of Weifang, Shandong Province, where industry has allegedly polluted the groundwater as far as a meter down. Just days later, the Weifang government stated that it had investigated 715 local businesses and found no water contamination at all [zh].
Although Xi Jinping has vowed to fight corruption among both “tigers and flies,” private citizens calling for government officials to make their assets public knowledge have met with arbitrary arrest.
In February, some locales announced new restrictions on information about properties sold [zh], ostensibly to protect the customer’s privacy and trade secrets.
“Naked officials” move their families–and their funds–out of the country, not just for better quality of life, but also as a backup should their political fortunes change.
Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Mengyu Dong.