Annual anti-graft blockbuster premieres, revealing shocking details far more harmful than financial corruption
Published: Jan 07, 2024 07:35 PM
Zhang Fusheng, former deputy head of the formerly named fire and rescue department under the Ministry of Emergency Management,publicly repented in front of the camera.Photo: screenshot from CCTV

Zhang Fusheng, former deputy head of the formerly named fire and rescue department under the Ministry of Emergency Management,publicly repented in front of the camera.Photo: screenshot from CCTV

In the first weekend of 2024, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) started to air an annual anti-corruption documentary revealing shocking details which go beyond financial corruption, which experts said demonstrated China's determination to expand the scope of supervision, deepening the intensity of its anti-graft efforts and strengthening investigations on public tipoffs. 

With the third plenary session of the 20th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is due to be convened from Monday, it is widely believed that there will be a greater emphasis on anti-corruption work in areas such as finance and education, and it will be extended to encompass culture, sports, and other fields comprehensively.

The documentary, titled "Continued Efforts, Deepening Progress," consists of four episodes and features 12 typical cases of corruption, with implicated officials confessing their crimes on camera, including those related to the high-profile anti-corruption cases. Among them, Li Tie, a former head coach of the Chinese men's national soccer team, publicly repented in front of the camera.

The documentary series also tells the story of Zhang Fusheng, former deputy head of the formerly named fire and rescue department under the Ministry of Emergency Management, Zhang Xiaopei, a former senior political advisor of Northeast China's Jilin Province, and Li Wenxi, Xue Heng, and Wang Dawei, three former directors of the Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department. 

The series reveals numerous shocking details of their corrupt behaviors. For example, in the case of Zhang Fusheng, the special investigation team found a large amount of Moutai liquor in his home, including bottles aged 15, 30, and 50 years, as well as multiple gold products, gold bars, and jade stones. Zhang confessed that he had a vague memory of who gave them to him.

The documentary series then exposes the cases of the three former directors from the Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department, who successively held this position for a total of 20 years. They were found to have accepted bribes totaling over 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million), with Li receiving 541 million yuan, Xue receiving 135 million yuan, and Wang receiving 555 million yuan. 

According to the public archive, Li served as the director of the Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department for nearly nine years (from 2002 to 2011), Xue served for two years (from 2011 to 2013), and Wang served for nine years (from 2013 to 2022). Experts believe that behind their case, there were other acts which took place which may have been more serious than corruption.

The documentary reveals that the majority of the bribes Li accepted came from an iron mine owner Liu Zhiting. The Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department once investigated a number of illegal mining cases, and Liu, the responsible mine owner, sought Li's help through connections to avoid punishment, promising generous rewards in return. Afterwards, Li approached the leader of the special investigation team, Wu Jinggui, and as a result, Liu was not subject to criminal prosecution. Later, he offered a 30 percent stake in a certain iron mine to Li, who arranged for his brother-in-law to be the nominal owner while he operated the business from behind the scenes, becoming a mine owner disguised in a police uniform.

Li, Xue, and Wang all accepted bribes and provided assistance to others in terms of job adjustments or promotions. Wang, in particular, engaged in egregious behavior, selling official positions and titles, repeatedly promoting individuals recommended by businessmen and bosses, with his interests permeating the system.

The consecutive corruption, involving a large number of personnel in the public security system, with a deep and lasting impact, is rare and has severely jeopardized the political integrity of the local public security system. Political ecology, just like water sources and soil in natural ecology, is not easily repaired once contaminated, a director of a local discipline inspection commission in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Since 2021, six members of the provincial public security department Party committee, who were in the same group as Wang, have been investigated and prosecuted. In Liaoning, a total of 43 public security and political and legal officials at the provincial level have been investigated and handed punishments. 

The fight against corruption must continue to exert sustained and deep efforts, with particular emphasis on monitoring and governance of the political ecosystem, experts pointed out. Such cases can reflect the unwavering determination of the top leadership in combating corruption. A weak political ecosystem will inevitably lead to scattered thoughts and rampant problems, resulting in corruption and deteriorating political environment. This will impact the entire process and various aspects of economic development.

In the past, anti-corruption efforts were mainly focused on current government officials. However, many exposed corruption cases involving officials who have already stepped down or retired. This means that the depth of anti-corruption work will be greater, accountability will be stricter. We cannot let any corrupt "parasite" escape punishment, Tang Renwu, dean of the School of Governance of Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In 2023, the second plenary session of the 20th CCDI highlighted the Party's determination to win the long and arduous fight against corruption, committing to "more forceful action to both prevent new cases and root out existing ones."

This forceful action has been conducted through tough measures, with concrete results seen over the past year.

In the first nine months of 2023, Chinese discipline inspection and supervision agencies filed around 470,000 cases, with 405,000 individuals were punished for misconduct, including 34 officials at the provincial and ministerial level.

As scheduled, the third plenary session of the 20th CCDI will convened from Monday to Wednesday. Anti-corruption work in 2024 is likely to deepen and expand, covering not only the previously mentioned areas such as finance and food, but also extending to the fields of economy, education, culture, and sports, Tang said.

The fight against corruption is long-term, complex, and arduous, and it is destined to be a tough and protracted battle. In December 2023, newly revised Communist Party of China disciplinary action was officially announced. 

Observers noted that to effectively prevent corruption from the source, it is necessary to strengthen the restraint and supervision of the exercise of power, while ensuring that appropriate checks and balances are in place. 

It is worth noting that as society develops, the means of corruption and bribery continue to evolve and adapt. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure officials understand the severe consequence of corruption from the beginning in order to fundamentally address this challenge, Tang noted.