China Anti-Corruption Watch: Powerful Ex-General Can’t Recall All His Loot

April 2, 2015 Updated: April 7, 2015

Editor’s note: The anti-corruption campaign surging through China is the most significant political event in the country’s recent history. Led by Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping and his deputy Wang Qishan, it has heavily targeted officials closely tied to Jiang Zemin, for years the Party’s behind-the-scenes godfather. The campaign’s non-political aspect has also seen a mass cleansing of corrupt officials at a lower ranks around the country. This regular column documents the assault as events take place.

Xu Caihou, the disgraced top military general who died recently, had a problem recalling exactly how rich he was.

While in shuanggui—an opaque Party disciplinary process for investigated officials—Xu was made to confirm the total value of his possessions, which were brought to light during investigations last year, according to the April issue of Chengming magazine, a Hong Kong publication.

“I don’t remember exactly how much I have,” Xu supposedly said. “It’s impossible to say because I didn’t keep track.”

According to Chengming, Xu’s possessions—hard cash, gold, bonds, jewelry, watches, antiques, paintings, exquisite pistols—and properties—land and residences in 6 Chinese cities—are worth more than 22 billion yuan ($3.5 billion). The former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission had 2 billion yuan ($322.7 million) and foreign currencies totalling 1.5 billion yuan ($246.9 million) on hand.

Found in Xu’s stash were 145 pornographic films and 485 racy magazines; the ex-general also cavorted with female military personnel when he was in shuanggui and receiving treatment for his bladder cancer, Chengming reports.

Bad Rep

A corrupt official who owned up to his sins is notorious in his district for leading a decadent life.

Chen Anzhong, the former deputy director of Jiangxi Provincial People’s Congress, confessed to accepting bribes, using his position to advance personal gains, and other misdeeds in December 2014, according to Chinese media China Economic Weekly. He also provided a list of female officials and wrote a lengthy confessional.

“When it comes to having a good time, Chen had no limits,” an entrepreneur in Piangxiang City told China Economic Weekly. The high official loved singing, dancing, visiting prostitutes, going to Macau for gambling sessions, and even taking drugs.

Chen also spent money without batting an eyelid—a Piangxiang businessman who declined to be named said Chen averaged 70,000 to 80,000 yuan ($11,290 to $12,900) a night on food and entertainment, and often paid 20,000 yuan ($3,226) for suppers alone.

Chen’s behavior influenced other officials, who started to copy his lifestyle, China Economic Weekly reports. But with his investigation and purge, these officials are starting to panic for fear of being next.

Airline Troubled

China’s airline industry has finally been hit by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

Four China Southern Airlines executives—company deputy general manager Chen Gang, operations director Tian Xiaodong, deputy general manager of internal services Zhou Yuehai, deputy general manager Xu Jiebo—are suspected of abusing their positions to commit crimes and are being investigated, according to a Jan. 6 public statement by the company.

If found guilty, these executives could have their possessions confiscated and be sentenced to death in serious cases, a legal professional told state-run Meijing Online.

Bits and Pieces

In France, Wu Xiling, a secretary in the Ministry of Commerce China’s Embassy, is being investigated for taking bribes, according to state-run Jinghua Times. Wu’s successor, Wang Shenyang, has also been nabbed for “participating in a company’s golfing event.”

In Guangdong, Pan Shengshen, the former vice chairman of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and Wang Hong, former president of the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Architectural Design and Research, are being investigated for graft, according to the anti-corruption agency’s website.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s statement says that both are suspected of taking large bribes. Wang is also suspected of visiting expensive restaurants and luxury private clubs, as well as having intimate relations with several women.