Anti-graft official vows to keep fighting after resignation

By Global Times - Agencies Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/15 7:03:03

Lu Qun speaks to a farmer during his on-site survey of herbal farming in Hunan Province. Photo: IC

Party disciplinary official Lu Qun was not one who fit into the system the way other cadres did. Before he left his position, his work had been "corruption prevention" among government officials, but instead of sticking to the Party line, his enthusiasm for engaging in individual cases online made him stand out from the crowd.

Lu was previously deputy director of the Corruption Prevention Office at the Hunan Provincial Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party of China, an organ at the center of the anti-corruption drive. Unlike most in the system, who tend to keep a low profile, he was known to the public as an online opinion leader, with more than 243,000 followers on Sina Weibo.

On his verified Weibo account, a first among provincial-level disciplinary officials, he had exposed corrupt officials and factory pollution, and attacked hospitals where negligent practices left people dead.

The trigger of his resignation, however, was a gamble. In August 2014, Lu criticized the China Food and Drug Administration for categorizing a type of herb, widely used in traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions, as another type with lower medical value. The change resulted in prices of the herb plummeting, bringing losses to millions of farmers. Lu questioned the decision to recategorize the herb, insisting it was scientifically wrong, and vowed to resign in order to investigate the move if it was not corrected.

'Elder brother'

It was not the first time he had put his official position on the line. As a Party official, Lu engaged himself in social affairs, discussing online hot topics and pushing for their resolution.

In private, he gave a great deal of help to journalists. More than a decade ago, investigative journalist Deng Fei came to him for help over a "case of injustice," and he gave him his support without reservation. "Lu is willing to help those hurt by injustice," Deng told After that case, many journalists who came to Hunan for interviews would go to Lu for help. Lu then established two groups on QQ messenger that brought together a number of journalists, which won him a respected status of "elder brother".

As a part of China's political system, Lu has certain principles. He would make clear to the journalists he helped what he could or not say, and never talked about himself or the Party disciplinary commission he worked for. "He speaks truth inside the system, and we speak truth outside. He is connected to us," Deng said.

On the other hand, part of Lu's duty was writing reports on public opinion that were to be submitted to higher authorities, and he relied on journalists to collect information on social issues.

When public anger grew over a forced demolition in Jiahe, Hunan Province in 2004, Lu had a clear idea of the case and submitted proposals to the government on how to deal with it, which were largely ignored. Discontent over the case eventually spread to a national level, forcing the State Council to meet to discuss ways to resolve it.

In another case that exposed the corruption of nearly all the top officials in Chenzhou, Hunan, journalists who had come from around the country got help from Lu, who was later criticized by provincial officials, Deng said.

Helping hand

Lu has an image of being an outspoken official among the public, but some journalists believe he is more like one of them. "Brother Lu believes there is an ugly side that needs to be exposed … He is an alien in the system, and you can't talk him over," said former investigative journalist Long Zhi to

In 2011, when Deng Fei launched the charitable program "Free Lunch" for rural students, he invited Lu to be a co-founder. Lu turned down the invitation as he was occupied with other matters, but he still thinks highly of Deng's cause.

"I understand the thinking of Deng Fei changing from investigative journalism to charity better than anyone else. He is attempting to change this country through his pragmatic efforts," Lu told the media.

Afterwards, Lu co-founded another charity dedicated to providing medical insurance to rural children.

Lu Qun was born in a village in Xinhua, Hunan to a barefoot doctor. He only attended junior college but was finally admitted to the Party disciplinary commission due to his achievements.

For more than a decade he dealt with paperwork before moving to the office of corruption prevention. But for Lu, working in the disciplinary commission and publishing Weibo posts are too vague and conceptual. He wanted to solve real, tangible problems. Coming from a rural family, he feels for the disadvantaged, he used to say.

In 2003, when petitioner Chen Changyou came to Lu Qun for help, Lu said, "If you don't have a place to live, you can come to my place for now," then put Chen up for three years in his home at the provincial Party committee's residential compound. At one point, Lu received two petitioner guests.

Sometimes, however, he was blamed for not doing enough. In 2011, He Taixiong, and dozens of other construction workers were beaten by police when they demanded unpaid wages, and they came to Lu for help. Lu didn't want the case to spin out of control and insisted that they follow official procedures in resolving it, until the local government announced the appeal had "expired." Today, He said he dislikes Lu and thinks he is "lacking in sympathy."

News of Lu's resignation came in June, which surprised his family and friends. He has begun working in a State-owned enterprise in Changsha.

Will he continue exposing corrupt cases after resignation? He said he would speak more freely without official status, and he would continue the investigation into the suspicious recategorization of the herb.

Global Times - Agencies
Newspaper headline: Man of conviction

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