The average citizen in China usually retires at the age of 60. Department chiefs, bureau chiefs and department directors also retire at the age of 60, making 59 a crucial age.
The result has been something known as “the 59 years old phenomenon,” a term coined to describe a trend of people with power (such as government officials and state owned entrepreneurs) who use their positions of influence immediately before they retire to “gain advantage by trickery.”
Indication That the End Is Not Guaranteed
According to Securities Daily, in 1985, Xie Heting, president and secretary of the Party Committee of Tianlong Group of Guangdong province, embezzled 20 million yuan (US $2.42 million) of public sector funds. Five years later, in 1990, Guan Zhicheng, secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Shougang Iron and Steel Corporation, was punished and executed for job-related crimes. In 1995, Yu Zhian, China Changdong Group’s chairman of the board, general manager and secretary of its Party Committee, stole 400,000 USD and fled the country. In 1998, Chu Shijian, factory managing director of Yuxi Tobacco Factory and president of the Yunnan Province Red Pagoda Group, was the main conspirator of a group that took 3.35 million USD of public sector funds. Former vice directors of China National People’s Congress in Guangdong province Ou Yangde and Dai Tianmin, and former chief economist of the Bank of China in Hunan province Luo Jingjun all brought shame and ruin upon themselves shortly before their retirement because of problems with corruption.
Power Not Used Now Will Go to Waste When It Expires
The “59 years old phenomenon” has explained well how these privileged Party members, by utilizing their monopoly power, have directly seized almost all the wealth created by the ordinary Chinese people. Recent investigations by the CCP’s public security bureau show that in some cities and provinces, the “59 years old phenomenon” represents more than 50 percent of corruption crimes committed by Chinese cadres.
In their last year of work before retirement, some high-ranking officials have been known to take extreme actions to embezzle funds from their company. Their methods entail opening accounts in foreign banks, saving embezzled funds in those accounts, moving their children overseas, giving their wives lucrative positions, and leaving themselves a way of escape.
According to reports by United Daily News, in another incident, the owner of a medium sized Taiwanese travel agency met with a local government travel agency on the Southeast coast of China. The 50 year old local agency manager announced that he was retiring soon, and wanted to seize a final opportunity to increase his business. Less than a month later, this manager sent a fax saying that the Taiwanese agency could take over the group for price even lower than what government officials were allowed to offer. A condition of the offer was that the funds had to be wired to the group’s bank account overseas. The deal went through. When that agency manager retired, the Taiwanese travel agency found himself listed in the “[takeover] funds account due” list.
The foreign bank account of this local agency manager was actually an account in the United States that belonged to his son who was studying there. Immediately after he retired, the agency manager left China with his wife and disappeared. The Taiwanese businessman said that the saying is prevalent in the travel agency business – when you gain the gains are your own, but when you lose it is the loss of the communist party.