Authorities in central China executed a former Communist Party official for raping 11 underage girls, state media said on Wednesday, following an online uproar about the latest case of abuse of power.
Li Xingong, who was the party’s deputy head in Yongcheng city in Henan province, was found guilty of assaulting the girls during police interrogations starting from the second half of 2011, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Li appealed against the guilty verdict, but was rejected by the Supreme Court, Xinhua said.
The case was widely discussed on Weibo, China’s popular Twitter-like microblogging site, after reports about the rapes naming Li as the perpetrator began circulating online in May last year.
“Yet another great example of a party cadre,” wrote one Weibo user sarcastically after the execution was announced.
“What is wrong with the party that they have animals like this in their ranks? There needs to be discussion about how to better select officials,” wrote another.
While the government has encouraged people to take to the internet to expose corruption and abuse of power, especially at the grassroots, it generally keeps tight rein on what can be said about similar problems with more senior officials.
After briefly allowing free online discussion following the sacking in March last year of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and the naming of his wife as a suspect in the murder of a British businessman, censors moved to block the topic.
The ruling Communist Party has long pushed to eradicate corruption, underscoring a broader fear that, if left unchecked, the problem could hurt the legitimacy of one-party rule and perhaps threaten its survival.
Newly appointed President Xi Jinping has vowed to make the fight against graft and abuse of power a key policy platform, but has made little apparent progress, with few senior officials being probed and no movement towards establishing an independent anti-corruption body.
Xi this week reminded officials of the need for a “thorough cleanup of undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance”, state media reported on Wednesday.
“These four forms of decadence are the problems most hated, and complained of, by the people, severely damaging relations between the party and ordinary people,” Xi was quoted as saying.
Source: Reuters “China executes official for child rapes after online uproar”
A deputy chairman of China’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is under investigation for suspected “serious discipline violations”, state media said on Sunday, as China’s new leaders tackle deep-rooted corruption.
Liu Tienan, 59, who until March was also head of the energy regulatory body, the National Energy Administration, was under investigation by the Communist Party’s disciplinary commission, state television CCTV said in a one-line report.
Last month, China formally charged a former railways minister, Liu Zhijun, with corruption and abuse of power, setting up the first test of newly installed President Xi Jinping’s resolve to crack down on pervasive graft.
In January, Xi, who officially took office in March, said anti-corruption efforts should target both low-ranking “flies” and powerful “tigers”.
The NDRC is a super ministry that sets broad economic policies and approves major investments.
China’s biggest political scandal in decades was the downfall last year of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai.
Bo’s fall from grace amid lurid accusations of murder and diplomatic intrigue caused division and uncertainty as the party prepared a transfer of power to a new generation of leaders.
The government has yet to announce a trial date for Bo, or what charges he will face.
Source: Reuters “Senior China planner investigated in new corruption crackdown: state media”
The Chongqing Communist Party’s disciplinary commission has endorsed penalties for dozens of city officials linked to a sex and corruption scandal.
Xinhua reported yesterday that 21 officials, including Lei Zhengfu, former party chief of Beibei district, have been sentenced.
Lei, filmed having sex with a woman hired by developers seeking favours in bids for construction projects, will be dismissed from the party.
The sex scandal erupted in November when whistle-blower Zhu Ruifeng uploaded screenshots from video footage showing Lei, 57, having sex with an 18-year-old woman.
Lei was fired within days of the footage going viral online, and at least 10 more government officials and executives from state-owned companies have been dismissed for appearing in other secretly filmed sex videos.
“The long-awaited decision shows the government in Chongqing was forced to make the decision by the weight of public opinion,” Zhu said. “The government was papering over the problems and did not want to release information immediately and transparently.”
Xinhua said the case of another official implicated in the sex tape scandal, Nanan district party secretary Xia Zeliang, would be handled separately.
Xia allegedly provided the poison that Gu Kailai , the wife of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai , used to murder British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011 and offered her other assistance. Bo allegedly helped cover up the sex scandal.
Xinhua said another district-level official, Han Shuming, was being investigated for suspected economic crimes.
A further 18 unnamed officials would receive different party punishments, including serious warnings.
Mainland media reported on Friday that the woman who appeared in Lei’s sex tape, Zhao Hongxia , had been arrested and charged with extortion.
The newly installed leadership has repeatedly pledged to tackle corruption. But whistle-blower Zhu said it was still difficult for the public to supervise officials.
A television show about his work that was supposed to air in Shanghai recently was pulled after national security authorities issued a gag order.
With little fanfare, China is sending an official with a ‘tough cop’ reputation to be its top man in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, as Beijing puts tackling corruption center stage.
Li Gang, a veteran of handling contentious issues in Hong Kong, is slated to this year take control of China’s liaison office in the former Portuguese colony – which like Hong Kong is a special administrative region under China’s ‘one country, two systems’ principle.
The office, China’s representative in Macau, has deepened its ties with casino and junket operators, who helped bring in over two-thirds of Macau’s $38 billion in revenues last year.
The low-key but significant moves signal a deliberate attempt by China to be more directly involved in the oversight of Macau, which has drawn unwanted attention with reports of mainland officials laundering state funds and betting millions in the casinos’ high-roller VIP rooms.
Rather than signaling a crackdown on Macau’s lucrative gambling industry, casino executives say the target is those Chinese officials using public money or pledging state assets to gamble – money that could otherwise be invested in businesses.
For example, Yang Kun, a vice president at Agricultural Bank of China, owed Macau casinos 3 billion yuan ($490 million) in gambling debts, while local media have reported former high-flying politician Bo Xilai laundered money through Macau. There has been no official ruling on either case.
“They are taking a much more proactive role. The Chinese government is more concerned about assets being wasted,” said a senior executive at a Macau casino, who didn’t want to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. “For them, it’s not about the funds being gambled, but about businesses or factories being squandered.”
China has revamped its anti-money laundering rules, Reuters reported this month, and Macau is overhauling its laws to set more explicit requirements to detect suspicious transactions. Francis Tam, Secretary for Economy and Finance, has said there will be stricter oversight of the gaming industry, with the government paying closer attention to abnormal capital flows.
Suspicious transaction reports in Macau rose by almost a fifth last year to 1,840, and more than 70 percent of those were related to the gaming industry, according to Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office.
Li, who sits on the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, was appointed deputy director of the Macau liaison office in December, and political analysts expect him to be China’s main representative later this year when the current chief is due to retire.
Having won plaudits for his firm handling of elections and electoral reform in Hong Kong as deputy director, Li has been quoted by local media as saying anti-corruption efforts are in line with a broader effort – and one of new Chinese President Xi Jinping’s priorities – to tackle graft and the illicit outflow of funds, rather than a crackdown on Macau’s gaming industry.
Located on the tip of China’s southern coast, Macau is the only place in China where casinos are legal, and more than two-thirds of its visitors come from the mainland. Each month, gaming rakes in more than half of Las Vegas’ annual revenue of $6.2 billion.
“China’s government is always focusing and concentrating on Macau’s development,” said a representative of the liaison office – which works from a recently renovated building that towers above the gaudy casinos and ubiquitous pawn shops – in response to a question on whether the government was increasing its attention on Macau.
After the release of notorious mobster Wan “Broken Tooth” Kuok-koi in December, representatives from the liaison office informed casino operators that if they faced any trouble they should go directly to them. Under Portuguese control, VIP junket operators like Wan tended to take matters into their own hands, resulting in frequent and bloody violence in the 1990s.
Macau junkets are companies or individuals authorized to issue credit to gamblers and settle any subsequent debts. The biggest junket firms run multi-billion dollar operations. Alvin Chau, founder of one of the leading operators Suncity Group, was this year selected as a member of China’s CPPCC Guangdong provincial committee, elevating his political credentials.
Macau’s first Junket Association was created on the eve of Broken Tooth’s release, with operators, liaison office representatives and local regulators attending a lavish dinner at Las Vegas Sands Corp’s new resort. Photos and videos of the dinner posted online show junket operators taking oaths, raising their right hand and reading from a small piece of white paper in the other.
“The association will strive to work together to keep society stable and the economy flourishing and transform Macau into an international city,” the Apple Daily quoted the association’s president Guo Zhizhong as saying.
Deborah Ng, director of Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office, has said that casino operators have adequate controls in place to detect if government officials or high-ranking politicians are gambling.
“I think there’s improvement. I can’t say what we have done now will totally prevent the risk, but actually we can see that things are improving,” Ng said.
Source: Reuters “Gamblers not so anonymous: Beijing keeps closer eye on Macau”
According to SCMP’s report today titled “Jailed former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun settles into prison life”, Wang Lijun, the monster police head who persecuted lots of people on the excuse of fighting organized crime still has a number of admirers in Chongqing who remember Bo Xilai’s rule fondly, and have also praised Wang’s contribution towards improving the city’s public security.
Some supporters from Chongqing or Wang’s hometown in Liaoning province even took dishes of dumplings to the prison and dedicated them to Wang on the eve of Lunar New Year last month.
For them, human rights and the rule of law are nothing. Forget human rights and the rule of law. Just give us good public order. That’s what they care.
Wang and Bo Xilai are charismatic and talented. In such a China, they may return to power as Bo Xilai predicted when China does not have good leaders to counter them.
Just think about Mao Zedong, the monster who caused the death of famine of more than 20 million people and persecuted countless people during his “Great” Cultural Revolution.
He remained popular not only among lots of Chinese people but also among quiet a few people outside China. Henry Kissinger praised Mao in his book “On China” perhaps to please China where he has been making lots of money, but he would not have written in praise of Mao if there had not been a large number of Mao’s admirers in the world.
In such a China and even such a world, human rights and the rule of law are very difficult to achieve. Those who fight for human rights and the rule of law have to be patient and prepared to make generations of efforts.
The following is the full text of SCMP report:
Wang Lijun is comfortable, says his family, with workouts to keep fit and a TV for entertainment
Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing is leading a comfortable life in a prison on the outskirts of Beijing, a source close to his family said.
“He stays in a good mental state and has put on some weight compared with when he stood trial in September,” the source quoted a family member who had visited Wang as saying.
Wang, whose flight to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year triggered the country’s biggest political scandal in decades, was jailed for 15 years in September for bribery, bending the law, abuse of power and attempted defection.
The source said Wang’s food and accommodation were better than expected. “Wang lives in a single-room which has everything one could expect to find, including a television to watch and newspapers and magazines to read,” the source said.
However, he has no computer and no access to the internet.
He is being held in Qincheng Prison, which is administered by the Ministry of Public Security and was built to hold officials above vice-ministerial level.
Inmates are believed to include former Shanghai Communist Party secretary Chen Liangyu, former Guangdong people’s congress chief Chen Shaoji and Wang Huayuan , who was formerly the top anti-corruption official in Guangdong and Zhejiang. The source added that Wang worked out regularly.
The right-hand man of former Chongqing Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, Wang fell out with his boss for reporting early last year that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was a suspect in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Fearing persecution by Bo, Wang fled to Chengdu, the capital of neighbouring Sichuan province, and sought refuge in its US consulate. He left the consulate the next day and was escorted to Beijing by state security officials.
Since his jailing, Wang has been criticised for what some saw as his harsh treatment of his subordinates in the police force. Others have said he sacrificed the rule of law during a sweeping crackdown on organised crime in Chongqing that started in 2009.
But a number of ordinary Chongqing residents remember Bo’s rule fondly, and have also praised Wang’s contribution towards improving the city’s public security.
The source said some supporters from Chongqing or Wang’s hometown in Liaoning province had taken dishes of dumplings to the prison and dedicated them to Wang on the eve of Lunar New Year last month. “It was a heartfelt gesture even though he [Wang] failed to receive the gifts,” the source said.
Source: SCMP “Jailed former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun settles into prison life”
Reuters shows its insight in its report yesterday titled “China’s graft-fighting Xi tells party future is on the line”.
When Hu Jintao took over the post as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he did not take over the power of the post from Jiang Zemin, but he could perform his functions with the support of Jiang Zemin, the core of the third generation of CCP collective leadership with the power of an emperor.
His lack of power was conspicuously reflected in his inability to deal with Bo Xilai in spite of his and Premier Wen Jiabao’s indignation at Bo’s restoration of Maoism.
Jiang did not render Hu and Wen his help as Bo’s father was to some extent Jiang’s mentor.
Bo rallied the large number of conservatives in CCP around him and became the head of a quite powerful conservative faction. Only when Jiang’s top assistant Wu Bangguo whom Jiang has put in charge of the development of China’s rule of law joined force with Qiao Shi’s legal faction, Jiang gave his consent to bring down Bo.
Hu and Wen certainly wanted to punish Bo harshly, but the powerful elders could not reach consensus on the issue. The conservative elders certainly wanted to protect Bo. So did Jiang in order to return favor to Bo’s father. However, if Bo is not punished harshly, with the support of the powerful conservative faction, he may return to power later. That will make it impossible for Xi Jinping to achieve his goal to run China his way when he takes over the post as the general secretary as Xi and Bo have entirely different aspirations.
Bo also knows that. That was why at the end of his lunch meeting with his Japanese friend Mr. Udagawa on May 13, 2012, he said, “I will return.”
In early September 2012, Xi went to Jiang Zemin to resign. That was the beginning of his mysterious absence for nearly two weeks.
Both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao had to say nothing about what had become of Xi as they did not know whether Xi’s resignation would be accepted by Jiang or not.
Moreover, they really did not know what Jiang’s response would be to Xi’s resignation. That is common phenomenon in China’s dynasties. Zhang Yuangan (1091-1170), a famous Chinese poet in Song Dynasty (960-1279), described that in his famous line: “Heaven is always too high to ask about its intention.” Here by the word “heaven”, the poet meant the emperor.
If Hu and Wen had revealed the information about Xi’s resign, but it turned out that Jiang did not accept Xi’s resignation and had persuaded Xi not to resign, they would have been in trouble. If they had said everything was all right with Xi but Xi did have resigned, they would also have been in trouble. They had better say nothing. As a result, Xi’s long absence became a mystery.
Xi told Jiang the danger of CCP’s collapse due to four problems. Reuter says with deep insight in its report, “Stability and survival remain the Communist Party’s watchwords as the world’s second-largest economy grapples with an upsurge of protests and social tensions over growing inequality, environmental degradation and graft.”
That means that there is the danger of a second Tiananmen Protests.
In addition, Xi told Jiang the lesson to be learnt from the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party. If the problems raised by him are not resolved, the CCP will certainly collapse due not only to the problems that caused Tiananmen Protests but also the problems that caused the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.
Xi has his ways to resolve the problem but like Hu Jintao, he lacks the power to do what he wants to do when he takes over. Moreover, if Bo Xilai is not punished severely, it will be very difficult for him to overcome the obstacles set by Bo to what he will be doing.
As the Party is in great danger of collapse, Xi shall have the power he needs to perform the great responsibility of the general secretary in order to realize his dream to make the country prosperous and strong and the people happy. If it is impossible for him to realize his dream because he is not provided the power required for his job, he had better resign.
Being the youngest of the new generation of talented scholars with moral integrity, Xi, like all others, has studied hard Chinese history and philosophies. Both Jiang and other elders believe that Xi will be the right person able to maintain the CCP as a communist party that regards as CCP’s guiding ideology the Marxism developed by Jiang’s Three Represents and the Mencius teachings incorporated in Hu Jintao’s Scientific Outlook on Development.
During his absence, Xi has convinced not only Jiang but also other leaders. As a result, with powerful elders’ support, Xi has been able to take sweeping thundering actions to close all black jails, encourage net users and media to expose corrupt officials and even deprive senior military officers of some of their perks in his austerity campaigns.
Xi’s talks with the elders were as important as Longzhong dui (proposal made at Longzhong where Zhuge Liang made the proposal) described in Chen Shou’s “Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms” (see Chapter 7), which changed the course of Chinese history: Cao Cao’s attempt to unify China was defeated and China was soon divided into three kingdoms.
Now, Xi has succeeded in persuading the elders to grant him the power he needs to overcome the problems and prevent China from disintegrating like the Soviet Union due the collapse of its dominant party. China will remain a communist country with a mixed ideology of Marxism and Confucianism different from Western democracies. There can be democratic administration, decision-making and supervision, but no Western democratic election because according to Chinese constitution, no multiparty democracy is allowed.
However, the serious problem remains that there is no mechanism to restrict or remove the core of the collective leadership with the power of an emperor when he becomes a despot and brings chaos to China or launches a world war.
Full text of Reuters report can be found at Reuters website at:
Disgraced former senior Chinese leader Bo Xilai is refusing to cooperate with a government investigation into him and has staged hunger strikes in protest and at one point was treated in hospital, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Almost a year after Bo’s fall from grace under a cloud of lurid accusations about corruption, abuse of power and murder, the government has given no definitive time frame for when he will face court, and has not even announced formal charges.
Bo was ousted from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year following his wife’s murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
Before that, Bo, 63, had been widely tipped to be promoted to the party’s elite inner core. His downfall came after his estranged police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate last February and accused Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, of poisoning Heywood.
Gu and Wang have both since been convicted and jailed.
No criminal charges against Bo have been revealed but the ruling Communist party has accused him in statements carried by the official Xinhua news agency of corruption and of bending the law to hush up Heywood’s killing.
Two independent sources with ties to the family said Bo’s trial was likely to be delayed until after an annual full session of parliament and its top advisory body in March because he was not physically fit.
“He was on hunger strike twice and force fed,” one source told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case. It was unclear how long the hunger strike lasted.
“He was not tortured, but fell ill and was taken to a hospital in Beijing for treatment,” the source said, declining to provide details of Bo’s condition and whereabouts which have been kept under wraps since his downfall.
The stability-obsessed ruling party is determined to prevent anything, including Bo’s trial, from disrupting the final steps of Vice President Xi Jinping’s ascent to becoming top leader.
Xi, who assumed leadership of the party and military in November, will take over from Hu Jintao as state president during the annual session of parliament, beginning on March 5.
Aware of public anger about a succession of officials caught up in graft cases, Xi has made fighting graft one of his main themes, saying that nobody, no matter how senior, is above the law. He has said that the party’s survival is at stake if the issue is not tackled.
“TOO MUCH TIME”
A second source confirmed that Bo had been on a hunger strike and also said he had refused to shave to protest against what he saw as his unfair treatment.
“His beard is long, chest-length,” the source said.
“He refused to cooperate,” the source said. “He wouldn’t answer questions and slammed his fist on a table and told them they were not qualified to question him and to go away.”
His family could not be reached. The government declined to comment, as did one of his lawyers, Li Guifang. Reuters was unable to reach his second lawyer, Wang Zhaofeng.
Bo’s is the most sensational case of elite political turmoil in China since the fall of the “Gang of Four” after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and has transfixed the public, unused as they are to having party scandals aired in public.
The recent lack of information about the case – Bo has not been seen in public since last March – harms the government’s credibility in the eyes of the people, said Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen protests.
“It’s not normal, too much time has past,” Bao told Reuters, referring to the lack of information from the government about the case.
“This is not good for the party’s image. They have not thought about this clearly. If they are able to properly deal with a big shot like Bo Xilai then they will increase people’s trust in the party,” he added.
Bao, one-time trusted aide to former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, a man purged and put under house arrest for sympathizing with the student protests, has experience of government investigations into suspected wrongdoing by senior officials.
Bao was jailed for seven years for his opposition to the government decision to send in troops to crush the pro-democracy demonstrations.
“They won’t torture or beat him,” Bao said of Bo’s treatment at the hands of investigators.
“I was not tortured, and he was a former Politburo member, so I don’t think they will mistreat him.”
Source: Reuters “China’s Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike: sources”
China scotched reports that disgraced politician Bo Xilai’s much anticipated trial would open on Monday, amid chaotic scenes at a courthouse packed with expectant journalists in the south of the country.
A report last week in a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper prompted dozens of reporters to travel to the sleepy city of Guiyang expecting to cover the trial of the man who was once considered a contender for China’s top leadership. The paper has been known to reliably report news Chinese state media won’t touch.
Flummoxed, local court officials held a hasty and unusual press conference to deny a trial was in the offing and pleaded for the media to leave them alone.
Almost a year after Bo’s fall from grace under a cloud of lurid accusations about corruption, abuse of power and murder, the government has given no definitive timeframe for when Bo will face the courts, or even announced formal charges.
“To date, the Intermediate People’s Court of Guiyang has received no information whatsoever about the trial of Bo Xilai taking place in Guiyang,” said Jiang Hao, deputy head of the Guiyang court.
“If the next step is to hold the Bo Xilai trial in Guiyang’s court, then, as according to rules, we will inform our media friends promptly,” Jiang told about 30 reporters crammed into a small room inside the court.
Bo was ousted from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year following his wife’s murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
Bo, 63, was widely tipped to be promoted to the party’s elite inner core before his career unraveled. The downfall came after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate for last February and alleged that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Heywood with poison.
Gu and Wang have both since been convicted and jailed.
No criminal charges against Bo have yet been revealed, only accusations from the party of corruption and of bending the law to hush up Heywood’s killing.
Bo was last seen in public last March and is being held in custody, though there has been no word on his whereabouts and he has not been allowed to defend himself in public.
All of this has added to the air of mystery and fuelled speculation the party will attempt to try him secretly without even paying lip service to due legal process.
“It’s not a small thing when you charge a member of the Politburo and a highly visible and relatively popular official,” said David Zweig, a political scientist at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The Politburo is the party’s decision-making inner core, which Bo was a member of until his downfall.
State media added to the confusion over the weekend when several Chinese news sites picked up verbatim the original report in the Hong Kong newspaper the Ta Kung Pao that the trial was scheduled for Monday.
Further stirring the pot, the influential tabloid the Global Times, published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said on Monday the trial would likely not be held until after the Chinese parliament’s annual session in March.
The issue is the most sensational case of elite political turmoil in China since the fall of the “Gang of Four” after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and has transfixed the Chinese public, unused as they are to the party’s dirtiest secrets being aired in public.
“I hope the trial begins as soon as possible,” said Zhang Zhi’an, a journalism professor at Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou. “This way the government can give the public a satisfactory explanation.”
It is also not known where Bo’s trial will take place, though Guiyang is as good a bet as any.
Sensitive trials are often held far from where the alleged crimes took place, to prevent bias or pressure being bought to bear on judges. Gu’s trial was in Hefei in the eastern province of Anhui, while Wang’s was in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu.
Source: Reuters “Dead end trail to Bo trial in China’s south”
SCMP reports: “Watchdog refers to investigation into ex-Sichuan official and trials of Liu Zhijun and Bo Xilai
“More than 160,000 Communist Party officials were punished last year – a 12.5 per cent increase from the year before, the party’s graft watchdog said yesterday.
“The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s investigations also helped prevent 7.83 billion yuan ($1.26 billion) worth of economic losses for the country, according to Xinhua.
“Separately, the party’s disciplinary body said it had launched a formal investigation into Li Chuncheng, the former deputy party secretary of Sichuan province. Li was dismissed last month amid allegations of questionable real estate deals, making him the most senior person to be investigated since Xi Jinping became the party’s new leader.
“Disciplinary officials also mentioned two high-profile graft investigations currently in the hands of government prosecutors, involving disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai and former railways minister Liu Zhijun.”
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
SCMP publishes the fourth and final part of its Revisiting Chongqing series that casts doubt on charges that saw ex-police chief Wen Qiang executed
The full text of story:
The story of the piles of cash found buried beneath former Chongqing police chief Wen Qiang’s fish pond was frequently used to justify the massive anti-triad drive led by his successor, Wang Lijun.
The 20 million yuan (HK$24.5 million) stash was discovered in the pond owned by Wen, the biggest catch in a crackdown that helped Wang and his political patron, disgraced former Chongqing Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, earn tremendous political capital.
The huge find, first revealed by a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper days before Wen was formally arrested in September 2009 and then put on public display in Chongqing, became the final nail in his coffin.
Wen, who was replaced by Wang in June 2008, was executed in 2010 for corruption, property scams, rape and serving as the “protective umbrella” for organised crime.
Wang was jailed for 15 years in September for bribery, bending the law, abuse of power and attempted defection.
Since then, several people, including former police officers, have come forward to challenge the fish pond story, saying it was simply fabricated by Wang to incriminate Wen and help consolidate Bo’s grip on power.
“Wen had nothing to do with it,” said one Chongqing businessman familiar with the case. “The money was actually borrowed from a local business just a day before Wang invited the media to see the so-called evidence.”
He said police buried the bundles of cash, carefully wrapped in waterproof paper, in the morning and then dug them up in front of the cameras that afternoon.
Another key piece of evidence used to convict Wen – two luxury villas worth more than 30 million yuan that Wen allegedly owned – has also been questioned.
A former senior police officer in Chongqing who was close to Wen insisted he was the real owner of the villas, where Wen allegedly kept mistresses and which were later turned into destinations for “anti-graft education” tours.
The former officer, who was also purged during the crackdown, produced property certificates showing he had bought about 1.3 hectares of land in the 1990s and built the villas with the help of his businesswoman wife.
Following the downfall of Bo – who has been accused of graft and abuse of power – and Wang, many others have spoken out about the lawless nature of their controversial crusade against organised crime, which snared nearly 6,000 people, including billionaire business executives, senior cadres, lawyers and gang bosses.
It is not known whether the mainland authorities will reopen the cases of Wen and many others allegedly wronged in the crackdown, redress their grievances and re-examine what happened in Chongqing during the four years that Bo ran the municipality.
In the eyes of his former colleagues, acquaintances and people who claim to be victims of the crackdown, Wang was a man of many faces whose dark side was hidden from outsiders.
He was one of Bo’s most trusted aides and one of Chongqing’s deputy mayors until his dramatic flight to the US consulate in Chengdu in February after Bo stripped him of his duties as Chongqing’s police chief and reassigned him to another portfolio. That unleashed the worst political scandal on the mainland in decades and led to the downfall of Bo, once a front-runner for a top leadership position.
Like Bo, Wang was image-conscious and manipulative, craved media attention and is best remembered for his brash, ambitious and flamboyant style.
Obsessed with his public image, he hired more than 20 photographers to take his picture wherever he went. Local government sources said his retinue – including personal aides, chefs and bodyguards – totalled nearly 200 people.
While the belated revelations have provided important details about what really happened in Chongqing under Bo, who was sacked in March, an important chapter remains missing, with Bo himself a conspicuous omission from such stories.
Many people remain reluctant or unable to explain Bo’s role in the scandal, from why he hand-picked Wang to lead the crackdown in Chongqing, to his involvement in his wife’s murder of a British businessman and the exact circumstances behind his falling out with Wang.
Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence in August for the murder. Wang was credited with blowing the whistle on the murder case and implicating Bo and Gu in other crimes.
When Bo will stand trial remains unclear, as does the penalty he could face.
Wang reportedly kept a relatively low profile for a few weeks after he was parachuted into Chongqing by Bo in June 2008. But many observers said he grew eccentric, short-tempered and self-indulgent soon after becoming Bo’s point-man in the anti-triad crusade.
Many of his former colleagues described him as a maverick with little respect for written rules and precedent.
Wang was meticulous about how he should be presented in the mass media and was most particular about his appearance, the sources said, with a penchant for luxury watches and expensive, Italian-tailored suits.
Wang’s brash, flamboyant style ruffled feathers among Chongqing officials, and especially among colleagues bitter about his tight grip on the police and his relentless persecution of anyone who disobeyed his orders.
Some of the rules he rolled out for the force verged on the bizarre. For example, even officers in remote suburbs were required to take turns to travel a long way to eat at a special canteen. They had to line up for food and were banned from chatting.
“No one was allowed to talk or take phone calls while eating,” one officer recalled. “It felt more like torture because we could be subject to serious disciplinary penalties if we’re caught by duty officers patrolling with hand-held cameras.”
Over the years, hundreds of officers who made minor mistakes, including some who worked closely with Wang, were subjected to various forms of punishment, ranging from demerits to demotion, sacking or even detention.
Sources said more than 2,000 Chongqing police officers who were sidelined by Wang had appealed for their cases to be re-examined, with about half reinstated or under review.
After ordering all police in leadership roles to step down from their positions and reapply through so-called open recruitment in 2010 in the name of combating corruption, Wang allegedly filled dozens of key posts with confidants from his power base in Liaoning and elsewhere.
Wang often claimed to be an expert in the arts, literature and architecture. He boasted of some 150 patents, ranging from book clips to police uniforms, boots and raincoats.
He also claimed to be a guest professor at nearly 30 mainland universities and to have published numerous research papers on forensic anatomy, but several police sources said it was all a bluff and he did not pen those papers himself.
They will chew me up and when they can’t taste anything, they will spit me out onto the ground, and God knows whose shoes I will be sticking to by that time
Wang, who purports to be a Mongol and is a self-proclaimed martial arts expert, often bragged about nabbing criminals in Tieling , Liaoning, where he first attracted the attention of Bo, who was the province’s governor from 2000 to 2004.
Starting as a traffic policeman in the 1980s, Wang rose to national fame after a television drama series, Iron-Blooded Police Spirits, was made in the 1990s based on his crime-busting stories.
Scriptwriter Zhou Lijun said Wang had a taste for the theatrical and the ostentatious, which came through in the television series.
But a deep sense of insecurity was apparently ingrained in Wang’s mind early on. He once said he was as disposable as chewing gum in an official’s mouth, Zhou recalled in his blog.
“They will chew me up and when they can’t taste anything, they will spit me out onto the ground, and God knows whose shoes I will be sticking to by that time,” he told Zhou in the 1990s.
Police sources said Wang lived in constant fear and paranoia. He wore a bullet-proof vest and slept in a different location every night after gangs put out a hit order on him in 2009.
Wang prided himself in having the nerve to chat with criminals on death row, hours before their execution, including Wen.
Although Wang has refused to reveal details of their last conversation, Wen has been widely quoted as expressing defiance and disappointment about the way he was treated.
“You’ll meet the same fate as me,” he told Wang.