In China, Education Director Pays for Taking Kickbacks for Textbooks

In China, Education Director Pays for Taking Kickbacks for Textbooks
University students studying in a corridor at the Hebei University of Engineering in Handan City, in northern China, on December 20, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)
Frank Fang
In the West, school textbooks are carefully selected according to educational guidelines. In China, on the contrary, some education officials have decided to collude with book publishers for their own personal profit.
On Dec. 18, Wu Guoyou, an official in the education department in southern China’s Guangxi Province in charge of reviewing and selecting education materials for local elementary and middle schools, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for accepting a bribe of 1.64 million yuan (about US$248,246) from Mr. Wang, the head of a local publisher. In return, Wu selected books by the publisher that were on the central authorities’ approved list for elementary school and middle schools in Guangxi.
Wu also had to pay a fine of 300,000 yuan (US$45,414) levied by the Intermediate People’s Court in Fangchenggang City, according to Chinese news portal Sina.
In May this year, Wu and two other officials in the same education department were publicly implicated in widespread corruption after they had been stripped of their Chinese Communist Party (CCP) membership, pending a formal investigation by the Party’s anti-corruption agency.
Students sit in a classroom as they study in Shanghai, on September 27, 2017. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)
Students sit in a classroom as they study in Shanghai, on September 27, 2017. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)
In August 2016, Wu had turned himself in to the local branch of the Party’s anti-corruption agency. He surrendered a total of 1.68 million yuan (about $254,318), which included other bribes he had received previously.
Wu’s sentencing came on the heels of another local education official’s trial. Yu Yizhong, the former head of both the education and culture departments in Guangxi, pleaded guilty to accepting 1.92 million yuan (US$290,668) in bribes from multiple local publishers, reported Chinese news site ChinaNews, which is run by the Chinese regime’s mouthpiece China News Service (CNS), on Nov. 22.
It is not known if Yu has yet to be sentenced by the Intermediate People’s Court in Yulin City.
On Sept. 21, Zheng Zuoguang, the former deputy head of the education department, was on trial at the People’s Intermediate Court in Chongzuo City for accepting bribes totaling 420,000 (about US$63,583) from local publishers between April 2000 to August 2006, according to ChinaNews. Zheng pleaded guilty, with a sentencing announcement pending.
China’s anti-corruption campaign began when Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to power in 2012 and has since punished and sentenced many Party officials. The deputy party secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Party’s national anti-corruption agency, Yang Xiaodu, announced that over 1.537 million people have been punished in the last five years, with about 58,000 sent to the judicial system for punishment, according to Sina in an Oct. 19 report.
The corruption in the educational system has not been limited to officials working in education-related government positions. According to a Jan. 14 article by the state-run publication Beijing News, 27 leading Party officials working in universities and colleges were punished by the CCDI in 2016. Among them, 10 were former school party secretaries, with 10 others once serving as either school principal or departmental head. 18 of them have been punished with the secretive an abusive interrogation known as “shuanggui” and stripped of  Party membership and job position.
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.