How Desperate Chinese Officials Try to Stave Off the Authorities

Caught in the cross-hairs of Party investigators, officials have resorted to a variety of methods to resist their coming downfalls.
How Desperate Chinese Officials Try to Stave Off the Authorities
In an April 16, 2004, file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Yu Zhendong, right, is arrested by Chinese police. Chinese officials have gone to great lengths to avoid capture. (AP/Xinhua, Yuan Man, File)

Caught in the heated anti-graft campaign under the Chinese Communist Party’s central authorities, corrupt officials have resorted to a variety of methods to resist their investigations and coming downfalls.

Ploys ranged from the predictable—offering the investigators bribes—to the outright desperate—hiring fortune tellers to convince them of their safety.

‘Coming Clean’ While Taking Bribes

In 2006, to make himself appear like an upright statesman, Hong Jinzhou, formerly mayor of Kaili in Guizhou Province, began handing in bribe money to the government. Hong set up a bank account for officials, including himself, to deposit cash they had received from others in bribes but could not turn down directly.

The apparent good samaritan, however, was not putting all the bribe money into the transparent account. While Hong had turned in over 55 million yuan (about $9 million) by 2013, anti-corruption inspectors discovered a missing 20 million yuan in his parents’-in-law basement, state-run Beijing News reported.

Hong, who was put on trial in April, confessed that his true intention was to absolve himself of suspicion as well as to cope with his own fear.

Fleeing Into a Market

When Jin Jianping, former party secretary and chairman of the Tianjin Gas Group company, received advance warning about his coming investigation by the municipal anti-corruption agency, he immediately made for the airport. Unwilling to go through security, Jin then turned to another path of retreat.

Soon afterwards, police in a marketplace arrested what at first glance appeared to be a poor elderly man wearing a patch-up hat and riding a freight tricycle. Jin was revealed when the police discovered the 1.5 million yuan (about $240,000) he was transporting with him, the Beijing News report said.  

‘I’ll Throw You Out the Window!’

Chinese officials often see themselves as above the law, and are known for using intimidation to achieve their aims. Anti-corruption staff have reported receiving threats delivered via letters and phone calls. In November 2014, Long Xiangyang, former director of a county Industrial and Commercial Bureau in Hunan Province, fell under investigation, according to the state-run China News.

Trying to scare the anti-corruption inspectors reviewing his bank account information, Long shouted “I'll throw you out the window!” at them.

Bribing the Investigators

In August 2005, the state-run Dahe newspaper reported that Hu Zhizhong, formerly the chief procurator of Henan Province’s Zhongyuan District, had bribed multiple individuals working on his corruption case, including the investigators and court staff. Hu’s family also assisted by bribing other officials to help support him.

When higher authorities discovered this, they set up an auxiliary inspection team to oversee the original one.

Help From a ‘Grandmaster’

In March 2000, Li Zhen, an official in Hebei Province, consulted a fortune-telling grandmaster. A few days prior, Li, who like many other Party officials in modern China was a fan of mystical practices such as Feng Shui, had overheard other people talking about him before an upcoming a provincial committee meeting and worried for his career.

The “grandmaster,” speaking to Li by phone, assured him that he was in good hands. At the meeting, however, Li was immediately placed under investigation, Beijing News reported.