‘Clean’ Communist Official Found Guilty of Corruption in China

April 15, 2015 Updated: April 15, 2015

Liao Shaohua, formerly the Party secretary of Zunyi City in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, once helped to open a center that raised awareness against corruption. He personally attended the opening ceremony for the establishment, called the “Oppose Corruption, Promote Clean Government Admonishment and Education Base.”

Now, Liao Shaohua has been jailed for corruption, according to regime mouthpiece Xinhua.

The People’s Intermediate Court in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, sentenced him to 16 years of prison and confiscated 1.3 million yuan—most of it presumably ill gotten. He was charged with bribery and abuse of power, catchall terms for malfeasance.

Xinhua reported that before his arrest, Liao went to great lengths to cultivate his image as an honest and upright communist official in the fight against corruption: aside from opening the anti-corruption “base,” he visited a jail and pretended to learn lessons from the inmates.

Liao, who became Zunyi’s party chief in 2012, signed anti-corruption agreements and endorsed multiple drives across the province to clean up government. He hosted and attended several large anti-corruption meetings. In 2013 he got a seat on Guizhou’s Communist Party standing committee.

That June, Liao kicked off the monthly party conduct awareness and prevention education campaign in Zunyi City, and gave a talk about how officials should have greater awareness against corruption. Liao even visited a local prison to learn from inmates—the way they thought and what led them committing crime—ostensibly to stay vigilant against his own temptations to commit crimes.

Following the visit, Liao warned his fellow officials about the dangers of corruption and other transgressions, as quoted by the state-run Beijing Youth Daily.

“We need to have a good look at the convicts serving out their sentences here, and think for ourselves how precious it is to have freedom. You should know that whatever you have up your sleeves can be exposed to the light of day at any time.”

But Liao Shaohua was leading a double life. He admitted to the Xi’an court that he accepted bribes while railing against corruption.

An inspection team from the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency traveled to Guizhou in May 2013, as reported by Chinese news service Sina. 

In the 2000s, working as a party secretary in an autonomous prefecture for the Dong and Miao ethnic groups, Liao used his political authority to suppress social unrest surrounding the pollution debate. It was a gesture made in support of companies seeking to develop the area. On another occasion, Liao accepted a 500,000-yuan bribe from a real estate company looking to obtain government approval for a construction project.

The anti-corruption team’s arrival signaled the end for Liao, who was found to be in “serious violation of Party discipline and law.” He was put under official investigation that October.