Wang Yue, a two-year-old toddler in Foshan City, Guangdong Province, ran out of her home one day in October 2011. A truck passing by knocked her down with one front wheel running over from her face down to the chest. The driver hesitated for a second and continued, with the rear wheel running over her chest again. Another truck came, crushing both her legs. Eighteen pedestrians went by, but none of them offered any help. Security video showed that, among those passersby, some walked by quickly, some took a close look before moving on, and some looked back a few times and walked away.
Wang died days later. This tragedy not only highlighted the Chinese public’s lack of care for human life. It also revealed a disturbing phenomenon—the fear of being a good person.
When it comes to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, Chinese people often describe it this way: If all of them were lined up in a row and executed one by one, some would be wronged; but if every other one was executed, a large number of corrupt officials would escape unpunished.
The situation in China is unique. Unlike corruption in other societies, under Jiang Zemin, CCP officials have been granted assurances that their corrupt conduct will not result in any untoward result. Few officials were clean. Whether in newspapers, magazines, or the web sphere, cases involving corruption of CCP officials were too many to count.
In communist China, corruption can take many forms, but first and foremost is the buying and selling of government positions. Entering the 21st century, a government position or sinecure is very much coveted. But government officials are aware that being caught taking a bribe from someone seeking a government position can be very damaging to their reputation in the community. Even the Communist Party’s own media acknowledges that selling and buying official positions is very harmful; among all the kinds of corruption, it has the worst impact.
Ma De, former party secretary of Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province, was found in 2005 to be guilty of selling official positions twelve times to over 100 bribers since 1995. These positions ranged from traffic police to county executive. The lowest position was sold for 50,000 yuan (U.S. $7,804), and the most expensive one was 500,000 yuan (U.S. $78,047). The total profit he made was 6 million yuan (U.S. $0.9 million).
To many, buying and selling positions is the fast track to promotion and fortune. This was what happened to Zhang Gaiping, the party secretary of Shangzhou District of Shangluo, Shanxi Province. At the low level as a district-level officer, Zhang sold 27 government positions to bribers. For example, to compete for the Shangzhou District secretary of education, Chen Xinzhi initially gave Zhang 100,000 yuan (U.S. $15,615), which was turned down due to the high competition for this position. Chen then borrowed money and raised the bid to 280,000 yuan (U.S. $43,723). Chen’s wish was then granted.
Because the official position was bought, the winner’s top priority was to get the money back. After taking office, Chen constantly asked for a bribe, even siphoning off from the education budget. Without bribery, schoolteachers could not receive salaries from the local education office in charge of funding.
The moral depravity and corruption of the CCP’s officials is ubiquitous and can take several distinct forms.
Mistress Corruption: This refers to the trade in power and sex. According to Liu Chunjin, a former official at the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, 90 percent of indicted bureau level officials had mistresses. Sometimes several officials shared one woman for intimacy. The mistresses often colluded with officials to engage in nefarious activities and sometimes even became their money-laundering machine. Occasionally, the corrupted officials were exposed by their unhappy mistresses. The incidents led to a folk joke of “combating corruption by mistresses.”
Secretary Corruption: Often CCP officials’ corruption cases involved nefarious activities by their secretaries or personal assistants. Secretary corruption has become a new phenomenon. Wang Chuandong, secretary for Chen Shili, the former Party Secretary of Huainan City in Anhui Province, once accepted over 500,000 yuan (U.S. $78,176) in bribes. Qin Yu, secretary for Chen Liangyu, the former Party Secretary of Shanghai, accepted a bribe in the amount of 6.82 million yuan (U.S. $1.1 million).
Family Corruption: Corrupted officials often had powerful families. One can see this by looking at Jiang Zemin and his relatives. Under Jiang’s leadership, from the central to local governments, familial corruption was widespread and out of control. For example, former Anhui Province Deputy Party Secretary Wang Zhaoyao used his influence to obtain, for his wife, son, and two brothers-in-law, high positions in local government.
Corruption by ‘Borrowing’: When Qixing Company of Shandong Province had two projects that needed government approval, Chen Xuewei, who was vice deputy director of Energy and Transport Department of Shandong Provincial Development and Reform Commission, told the company’s general manager Zhao that he needed to “borrow” a car. Zhao handed Chen a Volkswagen Santana valued at 178,100 yuan (U.S. $27,847). Chen was later appointed to a position in Feicheng, where the local government assigned him another car. Chen then did not return the car he had “borrowed,” but gave the Santana to his brother-in-law. Borrowing is simply a euphemism for taking bribes.
Corruption by Gifts of Artworks: Many government officials use a multitude of ways to collect Chinese calligraphy, paintings, and antiques, either for their enjoyment or to make profits. Some bribers spared no expense to buy such artworks and present them to the officials in the name of gifts or friendship. These items are very valuable, but the officials seem to think that it appears better to accept these kinds of bribes than pure cash.
Entertainment Corruption: Often officials were invited to luxurious entertainment facilities for relaxation and enjoyment. Underlings would pay thousands or tens of thousands of yuan (hundreds or thousands of dollars) for club memberships for the golf-loving officials. For officials who like karaoke, their subordinates and those who curry favor would routinely invite the officials to luxury hotels for the treatment, often with dinner and sauna, and even prostitutes.
Autograph Corruption: Some officials have the hobby of doing Chinese calligraphy. For example, former Jiangxi Province’s Deputy Governor Hu Changqing was a self-proclaimed calligrapher, with the special hobby of giving away autographs. During the time he was in Jiangxi Province, Hu did nearly a thousand pieces of calligraphy autographs for street shops in the capital city, Nanchang. He even left his artwork in public restrooms. And those autographs were not for free. At 3,000 yuan (U.S. $470) apiece, he pocketed nearly 3 million yuan (U.S. $0.47 million) in total. Although his calligraphy was mediocre, the People’s government agencies still wanted his artwork.
Corruption Related to Religious Beliefs: Although the Communist Party trumpets atheism, its officials may believe in fengshui, burn incense, and pray for Buddha’s protection over their gains from corruption. Hu Jianxue, the former party secretary of Tai’an in Shandong Province, spent large sums of money to build a bridge on a lake, according to the instructions of a fengshui master. Ding Yangning, the former party secretary of Zhenghe County in Fujian Province, established a special “tower construction office” to raise money from local residents to build a temple and tower.
Appearance Fee Corruption: Officials sometimes were paid for attending meetings and giving speeches. In addition, there were ribbon-cutting fees, lecture fees, and attire fees, and so on. Many officials consider these forms of income justified. Some even tirelessly accepted every invitation to obtain a monetary gift, also known as the “red envelope.” The relationship between ribbon-cutting and “red envelope” has become a frequent prevailing practice.
Corrupted Chauffeurs: Due to their personal relationships with officials, their private drivers have been in a position to assume some of the power resources of their bosses, and have participated and even organized corrupt practices. In numerous cases, drivers acted as a go-between for the briber and his boss, and facilitated the illegal deeds.
In recent years, corruption has exhibited new trends. There has been a switch from “hard corruption,” i.e., receiving money and goods, to “soft corruption,” i.e., featuring all types of services, ranging from domestic enterprises to the international, and from isolated individual cases to interconnected cases involving cliques of people.
Here are some familiar patterns.
Large-sized Groups Conspire: Quite often, when one individual was investigated and exposed, a bunch of officials surfaced. Behind each corrupt official was an economically inter-linked political clique and alliance bonded by common interest. For example, the case of Li Dalun, the former party secretary of Chenzhou City in Hunan Province, involved more than 160 people. The case of Mu Suixin and Ma Xiangdong in Liaoning Province implicated 142 people. The fall of Xiangfan City’s Party Secretary Sun Chuyin of Hubei Province was joined by more than 70 officials.
High-ranking Officials: According to a report of Xinhua News Agency, more than 100 gubernatorial and ministerial level officials were investigated and punished between 2000 and 2011. In 2009, 17 gubernatorial and ministerial level (including the vice-ministerial level) officials were sacked, a record number of senior officials ousted. In 2010 the number was 11 and in 2012, it was 7. The military system was no exception. Both the former Navy Deputy Commander and Vice Admiral Wang Shouye, and the former Vice Minister of General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army and Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, faced extensive corruption charges.
Prodigious Amounts of Money: One outstanding feature of Chinese style corruption is the money figure, which could easily go as high as tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of yuan (millions or tens of millions of dollars). For example, in 2009, the amount stolen by a gang of 31 officials from state-owned enterprises was 3.40 billion yuan (U.S. $0.5 billion). The family of Bo Xilai, the ousted former party secretary of Chongqing and Politburo member, owned overseas assets of at least 8 billion yuan (U.S. $1.2 billion). Foreign Policy magazine reported that Zeng Wei, the son of Zeng Qinghong, once embezzled state-owned assets of 9 billion U.S. dollars at one shot.
Position Used to Gain Future Benefits: Bureaucratic corruption has become cunning and subtle. Sometimes the corrupt payoff is to be received in the future instead of today, in a way like trading a stock future. Moreover, the payoff does not necessarily directly involve money or goods. For example, before leaving the position, some officials would plant their trusted aides or selected “successor” to the positions they held for their continued remote power control. Or some may work hard while in office, and reward themselves a high-paying job from the same company after retirement. Another trick was to use their power in exchange for corporate equity or a high-valued retirement package. Mai Chongkai, the former chief justice of Guangdong Provincial High Court, helped his children acquire millions of yuan (hundreds of thousands of dollars) of corporate stock.
Cross-border Crimes: Officials often collude with personnel overseas to commit crimes by taking advantage of the opportunities of cross-border flow of goods or capital. Some made use of the international differences of laws and regulations to commit crimes domestically and launder money abroad. Some roped in offshore merchants as their partners and left the money and goods overseas after the trading was done. Some Party and government officials were ready to flee the country at any moment when there was a sign of trouble.
In today’s China, safe food has become a privilege. CCP officials enjoy products of “special provision.” The 2008 Olympic Games athletes were served food produced in a specially designated Olympic Food Production Base. Meanwhile, millions of ordinary citizens every day have to face toxic foods: poisonous rice and flour, water-injected meat, gutter oil, sausages made directly from dead diseased pigs, ham treated with pesticide, seafood soaked in formalin, fake soy sauce, and more. One has to wonder: What food can be trusted?
One report from The New York Times in 2011 highlighted the severity of this situation. Titled “In China, Fear of Fake Eggs and ‘Recycled’ Buns,” it listed sales of pork adulterated with the drug clenbuterol, which can cause heart palpitations; pork sold as beef after it was soaked in borax, a detergent additive; rice contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal discharged by smelters; arsenic-laced soy sauce; popcorn and mushrooms treated with fluorescent bleach; bean sprouts tainted with an animal antibiotic; and wine diluted with sugared water and chemicals.
“Even eggs, seemingly sacrosanct in their shells, have turned out not to be eggs at all but man-made concoctions of chemicals, gelatin, and paraffin. Instructions can be purchased online,” the article continued, citing references from Chinese news media.
An exhibition was held on May 26, 2011, of confiscated fake and shoddy goods. The exhibits were stomach-churning: gutter oil, dyed buns, clenbuterol, ink-dyed rice noodles, fake lamb slices made with a dead chicken, and pork soaked in sheep urine. At the show site, even the senior officials of the Ministry of Public Security admitted that the counterfeits and shoddy goods are everywhere and the fraud level is so sophisticated that one cannot readily detect what is real and genuine from the fake or imitation.
A well-known incident in China was the Chinese milk scandal in 2008. After the New Zealand government discovered that milk powder from its joint venture in China-Sanlu contained melamine, it immediately required Sanlu to recall toxic milk powder. But the request was rejected. After the incident was made public, lots of infants who consumed the baby milk powder produced by the Sanlu Group were found suffering from kidney stones. The culprit was the chemical raw material melamine in the milk powder. The addition of melamine is an unspoken rule in the Chinese milk industry. The purpose is to increase the content of nitrogen (which normally comes from protein) at a much lower cost. Then they can claim that it contains a certain desirable amount of nitrogen.
The Sanlu milk scandal caused widespread concern because Sanlu milk powder is a brand-name product granted an exemption from complete (“quality”) inspections. It further revealed how widespread toxic food is in China. An inspection report from the China Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) revealed infant formulas from many domestic dairy manufacturers contained melamine, including Yili, Mengniu, Guangming, Shengyuan, and Yashili.
Ironically, many incidents of child malnutrition were observed as early as April 2005, such as abnormal head growth or even death associated with tainted infant milk powder in Fuyang, Anhui Province, and other places. CCP government agencies set up a special joint investigation team that conducted a clean-up of the national milk powder market. Their conclusion was that “Sanlu brand milk powder passed quality checking.”
After the incidence of the tainted milk, the fate of Chinese people eating poisonous food is still not yet over. There were toxic cowpeas, poisonous rice, poisonous shrimp, and poisonous cucumbers, one coming after another. An unofficial list of poisonous Chinese food includes fifty-five kinds of the most common foods. For example, there is highly carcinogenic rice and its derivatives, soy sauce made from hair dye, Jinhua ham soaked in dichlorvos, tofu made from tofu soaked with pig excrement, sunflower seeds processed with mineral oils, Taicang dry meat made from dead pork, pork bleached with hydrogen peroxide, and gutter oil. The extensiveness and severity of the problem is beyond imagination.
On this list, gutter oil has become a hot topic. When some production sites were discovered and shut down, more sites popped up. In fact, gutter oil is often used as a general term for counterfeit or “recycled” oil. A web blogger once visited a gutter oil production base in his hometown, and posted pictures on the internet, referring to the situation as “extremely awful, terrible!” According to the blogger, the raw material for gutter oil comes from two sources: waste oil from sewers, and food waste collected from restaurants. Upon processing, this oil will go back to restaurant tables despite its toxins and carcinogens.
This has led to a strange phenomenon in the Chinese food industry: the producers of the products dare not consume their own products! One would not eat the pork from the pigs he or she raised because of the additives, such as Ractopamine in the feed. One would not eat the vegetables he or she grew due to the overdose of prohibited pesticide. One would not eat the pickled vegetables he or she produced as the process is too dirty and preservatives are carcinogenic. In Shanghai, a new story revealed the production of steamed buns with prohibited additives. The producer of the buns told a reporter, “I would rather die or starve to death than eat these buns.”
Widespread Chinese poisonous counterfeits not only harm people in China, but also hurt consumers overseas.
In November 2005, the Joint Customs Declaration at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, composed of 25 nations at the time, reported that a total of 500 tons of counterfeit goods from China had been intercepted during a large-scale inspection targeting China in May. According to an EU source, 70 percent of counterfeit goods circulating within the EU were from China.
In 1997, a food-poisoning incident in Haiti caused the deaths of 88 children. The investigation was traced back to a company in Dalian, China. The Chinese government not only repeatedly interfered with the investigation, but also announced a year later that the company had moved and that its paper trail was not recoverable.
In May 2007, a mass poisoning incident occurred in Panama that took the lives of at least 369 people. The investigation showed that a Chinese company exported the toxic industrial solvent diethylene glycol as glycerin that eventually made its way to Panama. The Panamanian government officials unknowingly mixed these toxic solvents into 450,000 bottles of cough syrup to be distributed to the poor, leading to disastrous consequences. At least 20,000 were distributed across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. The sweet-smelling solvent was not harmless glycerin commonly used in medicines, but was a much cheaper automotive antifreeze component.
There was a massive pet poisoning incident in the United States in 2007. More than 8,000 cats, dogs and other pets died from poisoning. The cause was pet food containing melamine imported from China.
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received 62 cases of allergic death reports from usage of different heparin products since January 2007. The investigation found that some of the anti-clotting drug heparin used by patients had been blended with over sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), and that the chondroitin sulfate contaminated heparin involved supply from China.
The corruption in Communist China reached across the whole of society, in all walks of life and professions. The noble enterprise of educating youth, traditionally regarded as that special area of human society requiring sensitivity and care, was also not immune to debasement.
Education as a Money-making Tool
One of the most outstanding issues was multifarious fees. Education by its nature is an undertaking that promotes the public welfare. Ever since Jiang Zemin picked Chen Zhili to be the minister of education, however, education has been turned into a profitable business. Driven by money, schools charge students and parents a myriad of fees. Education then became one of the top ten most profitable sectors.
The charges and fees that students and parents face include, for example, school selection fee, tutor fee, sponsorship, exam preparation fee, money collected for some school projects, exam paper fees, building renovation fees, and so on. To make as much money as possible, public schools would concoct all kinds of pretexts. Their greed posed a severe hardship, especially for those elementary and middle schools in remote areas that have very limited resources. Local governments would rather build luxury office buildings instead of investing in education. School buildings are typically shabby and crumbling. Teachers are underpaid and students from poor families cannot afford the tuition. Many students have to drop out of school and do physically demanding jobs at an early age.
Like other sectors, many of those engaged in public education have succumbed to the rampant corruption. For example, between 2007 and 2010 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, there were 85 cases of illegal actions by elementary and middle school principals, involving 30 million yuan (U.S. $4.5 million) in question. In August 2009, the court in Lanzhou, a northwest city and capital of Gansu Province, charged Hu Wanxian, former principal of the city’s Northwest Middle School, of embezzling school funds and collecting bribes. The prosecutors discovered 1.9 million yuan (U.S. $0.3 million) of Hu’s illegal income.
In May 2010, Guangdong Province publicized the top 10 cases of 2009, one of which was the bribery case of Lai Laixin, former education bureau chief of Yingde. Between 2001 and 2008, Lai’s total bribery equaled 665,000 yuan (U.S. $100,000) and he was sentenced to four years in prison. What made this case a sensation was that Lai’s exposure implicated 98 elementary and middle school principals (all or nearly all the principals and some former principals), who, along with Lai, were suspected of accepting cash from school uniform suppliers. Upon hearing Lai’s charge, they immediately turned themselves in. Their case became number two on the top 10 list.
Compared to elementary and high school principals, presidents of higher education were usually involved in bribes of substantially larger amounts. Li Haiying, former vice president of Wuhan University of Technology, was sentenced to life imprisonment for embezzlement, misappropriation, and engaging in bribery of a total of 14 million yuan (U.S. $2.1 million). Former Executive Vice President of Wuhan University Chen Zhaofang and Wuhan University former Deputy Party Secretary Long Xiaole were sentenced to 12 years and 10 years in jail, respectively, for accepting large bribes.
Over the years, cheating has become a major problem in Chinese schools. In May 2004, the Ministry of Education announced four major exam cheating incidents.
A Wuhan University graduate student disseminated and sold, via the Internet, 2004 national postgraduate exam questions and answers, making 14,000 yuan (U.S. $2,100).
During the 2003 national adult higher education admission exam, 18 exam takers at Mudanjiang Forest Administration District in Heilongjiang Province used wireless communication devices for cheating. Three of them even beat up the teacher working as the exam monitor.
A teacher of Southwest Agricultural University in Chongqing sold 2003 national College English Level-4 exam questions and answers. He used his position as exam monitor to organize the selling of the exam. The case also involved six students from Southwest Agricultural University, Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages, Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, and one Chongqing’s Huilongda Company employee.
Three individuals—Cao, Liu, and Shi Xiaolong, deputy chief of the Academic Affairs Office at Chinese People’s Public Security University—were arrested for selling the 2003 national College English Level-4 exam.
During the Jan. 15, 2011 entrance examination for graduate studies, 19 students were arrested for cheating in a test center in Siping, Jilin Province. Among them, seven were found using high technology communication devices, 11 plagiarized, and one used an impostor. In 2012, the postgraduate English exam was leaked again.
In addition to exam fraud, admissions fraud is also prevalent in China today. There are numerous cases of using admissions to conduct fraud.
In 2003, Principal Jin Jiazhen, Vice Principal Shi Liang, as well as Director of Academics Ke Zhaoqing of the middle school affiliated with China Central Academy of Fine Arts were involved in illegal admissions and embezzlement of 1.45 million yuan. In 2004, Beihang University was suspected of extorting huge amount of money from students who applied for the school. Yu, former head of the Dance Department of Beijing Normal University, was sentenced to five years in prison. Yu was charged for collecting money from parents of two student applicants, and offering assistance to the student during the exams. In 2009, Hou Zhiyuan, the son of Hou Jianguo, president of University of Science and Technology (USTC) of China, was admitted to the USTC with a score 57 below the school’s lowest admission score. Also, in Shaodong County of Shaoyang, Wang Jiajun, daughter of the chief of the local police department, attended a college as an impostor of another student Luo Caixia from the same city. Wang was not discovered until five years later.
Universities and scientific research institutions are commonly regarded as places where people work in an “ivory tower,” that is, a pure state outside the mundane world, if not a little too removed from reality. Still, the common belief in the West is that scholars should hold to high ethical standards and in their work, and conduct themselves with personal integrity and truthfulness. However, tempted by money and various interests, many scholars in China betray their Confucian heritage and lose their conscience. Copying others’ work or falsifying experimental data or results has become all too common.
In August 2008, Ding Guanghong, a Fudan University professor, and his student, postdoc Tian Shunlian, published a paper in a life sciences journal. Investigation showed that Tian took the lab’s unpublished work as her own and added fake data, as well as large portions copied from other published papers. The paper, which normally requires one or two years of work, was finished within only four months.
Liu Hui, a professor at the School of Medicine of Tsinghua University, put other people’s published papers under his name. After being exposed, Liu’s professorship was revoked and appointment cancelled.
He Haibo, a postdoctoral fellow of Zhejiang University College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, published a series of academic papers in top international journals, which were eventually taken off due to He’s academic misconduct, such as data fraud and duplicated submissions. The case also involved Li Lianda, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and dean of Zhejiang University School of Pharmacy.
In addition, Yang Jie, dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology of Tongji University, made false statements on his resume and used other people’s papers in the application for funds. Liu Hanlong, a professor of Hehai University, plagiarized others’ academic achievements and used them to apply for multiple awards. Shen Luwei, an associate professor at the Tianjin Foreign Studies University, made a public apology for stealing other people’s academic achievements and violating their copyrights.
A story that made headline news was the incident of the South China tiger photo. Zhou Zhenglong, a farmer from Shaanxi province became well-known for falsification by making a fake photo related to the South China tiger. On Oct. 12, 2007, the Forestry Department of Shaanxi Province announced the discovery of a South China tiger in Shaanxi and published a photo by farmer Zhou Zhenglong on Oct. 3, 2007. The South China tiger is the most distinctive of all tiger subspecies. There have been no recorded sightings of the South China tiger since the early 1970s, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and so it is likely extinct. The photo caused an immediate sensation in China. Zhou is a farmer from Chengguan, a town in Zhenping County; the city of Ankang administers Zhenping County. Zhenping County officials erected huge billboards in the streets saying, “enjoy nature, hear the roar of the South China tiger, and taste Zhenping bacon.”
However, the news attracted massive questioning. Many suspected that Zhou used some paper tigers to make the fake photo. Since then, many scholars expressed their views questioning the authenticity of photos from a scientific perspective. Faced with numerous doubts, Shaanxi Forestry Department insisted that the tiger was there. On Nov. 17, 2008, Ankang Intermediate Court found defendant Zhou Zhenglong guilty of fraud and illegal possession of explosives, and sentenced him to two years and six months imprisonment, a probation period of three years, and fined him 2,000 yuan (U.S. $300).
Another remarkable incident of extreme dishonesty was the claim of an invention of the Hanxin I chip.
In 2003, Chen Jin, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, announced a breakthrough in microchip design and said he invented the digital signal processing (DSP) microchip “Hanxin I.” China greeted the news with great delight and Chen was even named dean of microelectronics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He promised even to deliver newer chips Hanxin II and III in 2004. With the invention, Chen applied for dozens of grants and obtained over 100 million yuan (U.S. $15 million) of research funding, as well as countless awards and titles. However, it turned out to be fraudulent as revealed by a whistleblower. In August 2002, Chen had bought 10 U.S. Motorola MOTO-Freescale 56800 chips. He scratched off the identification on the chip surface and put on the wording “Hanxin I” and the logo. This marked the “birth” of the world-class CPU “Hanxin I.” The invention of “Hanxin I” that supposedly would have brought pride to Chinese people instead turned out to be a stunning scientific fraud. The revelation resulted in Chen’s expulsion, retrieval of his research funds and possible criminal investigation by authorities. The Chinese government banned him from any future research.
According to news media, the total number of papers published by Chinese scientists has exceeded that of the United States, ranking first in the world. However, the average reference rate is ranked below 100 among the world, making one wonder how many of these scientific contributions are from original works.
In today’s China, getting a fake diploma is easy and simple, as long as one is willing to pay. Even genuine diplomas can be obtained through illegal channels, or be traded for power or money.
For example, Zhou Zhixing, the deputy director of the Division of Adult Education in Guangdong Provincial Department of Education, used his position to illegally issue about 10,000 diplomas. In the process, he received over 560,000 yuan (U.S. $84,000) through bribery and another 1.62 million (U.S. $240,000) through embezzlement.
Some government officials and corporate executives are involved in the diploma trade with schools and research institutions in the name of continuing education and personal development of officials. These officials will be able to obtain the authentic diplomas without going to classes or taking exams. Someone writes the thesis; tuition is paid from government’s funds. In return, the government officials take care of these schools and research institutes, approving funding and project applications.
Nowadays, in order to obtain a degree or a promotion, many research institutes and government offices require a certain number of publications. Where there is demand there will be supply. So came the companies that hire ghostwriters to write bachelor’s and master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, technical papers, and other types of documents. Many of these papers are professionally written. This business is booming.
As an educator, a teacher should serve as role models for the younger generation. Nowadays, many teachers in China, instead of providing an upright example, dedicate themselves to currying favor with their superiors.
In 2004, the story broke that Nanjing Normal University used girl students to please higher officials. When senior officials from the Ministry of Education came to visit Nanjing Normal University, the school organized a ball and forced ten female students who majored in dance choreography to skip classes and avail themselves as dancing partners of the officials. The vulgar performance of the officials made the girls feel embarrassed. After the dance, the girls fled the scene. As a consequence, there was a great uproar on the campus of Nanjing Normal University. When a professor was interviewed by a reporter, he summarized this phenomenon as an extension of vulgar social and official activities in colleges and universities! “There is only one purpose for the executives at all levels of colleges and universities, [and that is] to please the senior superior officials.”
A Tool for Political Persecution
As part of Jiang Zemin’s campaign against Falun Gong, the education sector also became a casualty of the persecution. People in schools were mandated to criticize Falun Gong. Teachers and students were forced to watch defamation video programs. Young students had to go through Cultural Revolution-style classroom sessions to condemn Falun Gong. Almost every student was required to announce his or her position on the issue of Falun Gong.
On Feb. 1, 2001, the Ministry of Education sent a notice to schools, colleges, and universities to launch a signature campaign across the nation. Millions of names were signed, willingly or unwillingly, in opposition to Falun Gong. When some students refused to sign, teachers would force them to do so by coercion. According to a report from Falun Gong’s Minghui.org website on March 18, 2001, Chengdu University of Chinese Medicine sent out an announcement, requiring each student to sign on an anti-Falun Gong banner. Those who refuse to sign would be expelled from the school.
In addition, content that attacked Falun Gong or made practitioners appear to be guilty of misdeeds was added into primary and secondary school textbooks. Anti-Falun Gong questions even show up in exams, including the national college entrance exams and graduate enrollment exams.
China’s education system also directly persecuted students and faculty members who refused to give up the Falun Gong practice. Teachers were fired and students were expelled or forbidden to graduate. Some were sent to forced labor camps, mental hospitals, or brainwashing centers for prolonged mental and physical torture, and even tortured to death. Since 1999, in Tsinghua University alone, over 300 professors, instructors, graduate students, and undergraduates were illegally arrested, fired, expelled, or directly sent to forced labor camps. In the educational system alone, at least 72 practitioners were confirmed to have lost their lives. Among them, the youngest was Chen Yin, a 17-year-old student from Shuren Middle School in Jiamusi in Heilongjiang Province, and the oldest was Zhou Jingsen, a 68-year-old professor from Harbin College of Management.
In the years under Jiang Zemin’s reign over China, the country’s health care system underwent an important change. The mutual trust between the doctor and patient eroded. Today, the doctor-patient relationship is more like the seller and buyer of a service. Hospitals become profit-driven entities, with patients providing the customer base and source of income. In a society driven by money, various unethical means of milking the patients are part of everyday life. Medical professionals intentionally prescribe high-priced medicines, demand unnecessary medical examinations, invent excessive charges, and elicit red envelopes (bribery). Patients become the hapless subjects of extortion.
The Story of a Young Doctor
A young doctor once wrote in his personal blog to disclose some terrible secrets in the industry.
“In 2009 after graduating from Tianjin Medical University with a major in tumor [biology], I was lucky enough to become a doctor in the oncology department of a top-tiered hospital in Shandong Province. On the first day of my work, I put on a white coat and went with the department director for ward rounds. There were more than 40 cancer patients with distinct conditions, but one thing in common—trusting our words without any doubt.
“The next morning, I admitted an elderly patient with advanced liver cancer. Images indicated the cancer had systemic metastasis with little therapeutic hope. In addition, judging from his clothing, I could tell that his family was not financially well off. Out of sympathy, I called the old man’s daughter into the office and suggested to give up the treatment. The daughter burst into tears and sadly took her father away. One week later, I accidentally found out that the elder man was admitted to the hospital! I was told by the head nurse that the old man would not ‘wait to die’ at home, so he sold his house for 300,000 yuan (U.S. $45,000), came to register a second time for an oncology expert’s treatment, and then he was immediately admitted to the hospital. The nurse also told me in private, ‘The elder man said in the ward that you had no medical ethics because you were incapable of healing him and let him go home waiting for death!’
“At the end of November 2009 when it was time to distribute bonuses in our oncology department, everyone got an average of about 2000 yuan (U.S. $300), which was quite low. The department director closed the door and held a meeting with us secretly. He told us, ‘Our hospital is adopting the performance appraisal to determine our bonuses, which equal [the profit from medicine prescribed times a percentage] …’ He added with a deliberate pause, ‘Did I make myself clear? If you prescribe cheap medicine of a couple yuan for your patients, it is your choice. But even if you consider yourself as a Bodhisattva coming down here to save people, you shouldn’t expect everyone else to suffer with you.’ As he stopped, everyone was looking at me and I blushed.
“Another patient, a retired official, came a few days later. He suffered from prostate cancer with metastasis in the abdominal cavity. Because of the previous lesson learned, I hesitantly talked with his wife, ‘I suggest that your husband should be treated with relatively better medicine to improve the quality of his life …’ Before I finished talking, his wife agreed with repeated nodding, ‘Please use whatever good drugs for him. I have to save my husband.’ I was relieved by her words and felt free to use whatever expensive drugs on her husband. The old man stayed in the ward for two months with a total cost of 400,000 yuan (U.S. $60,000) and died eventually.
“In July 2010, I admitted a patient with early-stage lung cancer. As there were indications for surgical treatment, I sent him to a doctor at the department of thoracic surgery. Unexpectedly, after the surgery that doctor invited me for a dinner and gave me a red envelop of 500 yuan (U.S. $75). I said no but he insisted, ‘This is what you deserve. In the future if I have patients who need chemotherapy, I will send them to you. Let’s do a long-term cooperation.’ Then as an experienced surgeon, he gave me a little lecture. ‘You are a new graduate. Have you figured out the working process of the oncology department? Simply put, a cancer patient would first receive an operation. Once we, the surgery doctors, make enough money, he would continue with chemotherapy, then radiotherapy. After all those departments make enough money, the patient would go to the Chinese medicine department for herbal medicine.’
“What happened later verified what he said. There was a patient of advanced gastric cancer metastasis in the peritoneum. But he was still sent for an operation, and then chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy and Chinese medicine. After three months, the patient died. I checked the records of the patient; he was already too late for the operation in the first place.”
Red Envelope Bribes
On the bulletin boards of Chinese hospitals there is usually a conspicuous announcement that medical workers are strictly prohibited from accepting red envelopes, a euphemism for bribes or kickbacks. For people in China who are used to reading between the lines, such an announcement is simply a reminder of how to get things done when paying for a doctor’s visit.
In the past, some patients would express their gratitude to doctors with a little present after recovery. They generally fell into a socially acceptable limit. In today’s society, this type of gratitude has changed to something different. Red envelopes have become doctors’ important source of income in addition to their salary. Accepting the red envelope is an unspoken rule in most hospitals.
To give you an idea of how common these red envelopes have become and how much money is potentially involved, there is an example of the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau, about which Xinhua News Agency reported that 458 public medical institutions in Shanghai refused to accept 555 red envelopes in 2011, with a total amount of 6,169,400 yuan (U.S. $0.9 million). In this example, it was one good response to turn down the money, but it indicated just how common and lucrative this practice is.
One Chinese media article reported an investigation conducted of the practice of handing out “red envelopes” among Chinese hospitals. Approximately 70 percent of patients (or their families) who had received surgeries revealed that they had offered red envelopes to their doctors. The amount of money often depended upon the hospital’s ranking, the complexity of the surgery, and the patient’s economic condition. Insiders revealed that in local hospitals, the price is between 300 yuan (U.S. $45) and 500 yuan (U.S. $74) for the chief surgeon of the operation, 200 yuan (U.S. $30) for the anesthesiologist, and something for the surgical assistant. In major hospitals the envelope is larger, usually 800 to 1000 yuan ((U.S. $118 to U.S. $148) for the principle surgeon and additional for anesthesiologist, surgical assistant, and postoperative care nurses. If the surgery is particularly complicated or involves high risks, or the patient’s family is well-off, the amount will rise accordingly. For example, one woman came for a hysterectomy, and her son bribed the principle surgeon with a red envelope of 10,000 yuan (U.S. $1,480) and various amounts to all the other medical professionals involved in the operation, with a total of about 50,000 yuan (U.S. $7,380).
Refuse Help to Those in Need of Emergency Medicine
When a patient is admitted to a hospital, no medical treatment will be provided until payment is made. Sometimes the hospital simply does nothing for dying patients.
The Chutian Metropolis, a Wuhan-based newspaper in Hubei province, once told the story of a 20-year-old man working in a restaurant. On Aug. 5, 2011, he had his thumb and ring finger accidentally cut by a broken plate. With deep wounds and continuous bleeding, he was immediately taken by fellow workers to Wuhan No. 3 Hospital one block away from the restaurant. When he stepped out of the operating room, the medical staffer said, “Pay now or the stitches will be immediately removed.” As he didn’t have enough money, he raised his hand with the plaster still wet. The stitches and wet plaster were removed from his wounded hand even without using anesthetics.
A similar incident happened in August 2004 at Guangdong Medical College Affiliated Hospital in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province. A patient named Chen Xiaoqiang was stabbed and sent to the hospital’s emergency room. Chen told the nurse that he had been stabbed and needed immediate attention. However, the hospital personnel insisted that he fill out a registration card and make payment before any treatment. From 11:38 pm when Chen was taken to the emergency room until 12:45 am when he died, the doctor on call did not take any urgent action and let the patient bleed to death.
Continue reading Chapter 5 here
To read the Introduction, click here.
To read Chapter 1, Jiang Zemin’s Rise, Part 1, click here.
To read Chapter 1, Jiang Zemin’s Rise, Part 2, click here.
To read Chapter 2, Corruption Soars Under Jiang, Part 1, click here.
To read Chapter 2, Corruption Soars Under Jiang, Part 2, click here.
To read Chapter 3, The Reality Behind China’s Economic ‘Miracle,’ Part 1, click here.
To read Chapter 3, The Reality Behind China’s Economic ‘Miracle,’ Part 2, click here.
To read Chapter 4, Jiang’s Crusade Against Falun Gong, Part 1, click here.
To read Chapter 4, Jiang’s Crusade Against Falun Gong, Part 2, click here.
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