Mao Zedong, founding leader of the communist regime in China, once said that “women hold up half the sky,” referring to the need for gender equality.
More recently, businessman and Communist Party official Jiao Zhiren of Shandong Province—investigated for corruption and sacked from his posts in 2002—said that “I am responsible for half of my shackles, but my wife is responsible for the other half.”
Jiao’s words, reported by Chinese paper Zhejiang Daily in 2010, reflected the pervasive and widespread nature of corruption in contemporary China. Graft and bribery are not limited to individual officials but extend to their families and the political system itself as a matter of course.
Dai Xiaoming is a former investment company president sentenced to life in prison last May for corruption involving hundreds of millions of yuan.
In a repentance letter penned by Dai and published on the website of the Chengdu branch of the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency, the jailed businessman listed six reasons for his misconduct, among which was an explanation delegating part of the responsibility to his wife:
“When a man advances in society, so does his wife,” Dai wrote. “As her circle of friends increased, my wife began to learn from others about investing in real estate and buying jade.” Dai then indicated that he was led to corruption in order to support his wife’s appetite for these goods.
“This led to my downfall,” Dai wrote.
This March, Communist Party official Zhan Yuedeng of Guangdong Province was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting about $30,000 in bribes, and his personal assets were confiscated.
According to a January report by the Yangcheng Evening News, Zhan claimed in court that his wife Zhou Xiuli was “in charge of the money at home” and that he had given all his money to her.
Between 1992 and 1998, Qi Huogui held various Communist Party positions on the island of Hainan, which he and his wife Fu Rongying used to illegally accumulate millions of dollars’ worth in Chinese yuan, gold, and foreign currencies. He received a death sentence for his crimes.
“If only I had a better wife, she would’ve warned me and I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now,” Qi told state-run media on Aug. 12, 2001.
Qi Huogui was executed the next morning.