Xinhua English made a brief announcement on Monday morning that Liu Zhijun, China’s former railways minister, was charged with bribery and abuse of power and handed a suspended death sentence by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.
The South China Morning Post sets the background of the case, including the context of the new leadership’s vows to fight corruption and the reaction of Chinese netizens:
Liu was sacked as railways minister in 2011 after eight years in the post, and the scandal surrounding him is reported to have involved as much as 800 million yuan (HK$1 billion).
He was charged and convicted of accepting 64.6 million yuan in bribes to help 11 people secure contracts and promotions, Xinhua said.
Users of China’s popular microblog service Sina Weibo were sceptical about his punishment, with some condemning it as too lenient. “Such good news for corrupted officials. This is encouraging them, because the worst result will just be a suspended death penalty,” said one. Another lamented: “Oh dear, now he’s going to keep wasting taxpayers’ money.” [Source]
Chinese media reports suggest the evidence presented in the trial represented only a fraction of his malfeasance, writes The Guardian:
The Beijing Times reported that investigations into Liu recovered 16 cars and more than 350 flats. He had 18 mistresses “including actresses, nurses and train stewards”, the state-run Global Times reported in 2011.
“It’s really a matter of how much does this really prove that Xi Jinping is serious about anti-corruption, or whether it’s really more about ostentatious corrupt practices,” said Steve Tsang, a professor of Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham. “And in this case, there’s not enough evidence that it’s about corruption itself, and not just ostentatious displays of corruption.” [Source]
At Tea Leaf Nation, Rachel Liu reveals another recent official corruption scandal:
How do you get a “license to pollute” in China? Start by giving a RMB2,000 (approximately US$330) gift card to the local environmental protection agency’s director.
That is, according to a list that was circulated on China’s social media that allegedly shows 47 government officials as recipients of gifts from a real estate developer in Yinchuan, the provincial capital of Ningxia province. While the authenticity of the list cannot be verified, journalists in China have confirmed that the officials named on the list do indeed exist. [Source]