News / Asia

Chinese Officials Accused of Holding Secret Parties

A trainee walks pass a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy, Sept. 2012.
A trainee walks pass a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy, Sept. 2012.
China is acknowledging that some government officials have tried to avoid a crackdown on extravagance by holding secret sauna parties and hiding alcohol in plastic water bottles.

The state-run People's Daily published a front-page commentary Wednesday warning officials against engaging in "underground" lavish lifestyles funded by public money.

The article was published under the byline of He Yong - the same name as a high-ranking Chinese anti-corruption official.  It coincided with China's May Day holiday, which many Chinese typically celebrate with elaborate feasts.

Deceptive behavior

The newspaper said public discontent has grown in response to reports of Chinese officials holding sauna parties in farmhouses, pouring luxury liquor into water bottles and staging banquets in canteens to hide their conduct from supervision.

Communications professor Zhou He of the City University of Hong Kong said he learned of similar deceptions while meeting Chinese officials for Lunar New Year dinners in February.

"The holiday is usually an opportunity for Chinese officials and business people to meet," said Zhou, speaking by phone from Hong Kong. "There is always an exchange of favors and gestures to say thank you for help that has been delivered."

The communications analyst also cited an example of a local official who tried to hide a lavish dinner from the public by staging it at a cafeteria in Shandong province earlier this year.

He said protesters found out about the dinner and surrounded the cafeteria, forcing the official to apologize and causing him to be demoted in a case that drew wide interest from Chinese Internet users.

The new Chinese Communist leadership that took office last year has vowed to reduce official extravagance and promote frugality to try to keep a lid on domestic anger about corruption.

Zhou said many Chinese are used to local authorities finding "tricks" to get around central government orders. "What people hate more is the large amount of embezzlement among government officials," he said.

Fighting corruption

The People's Daily commentary called for the implementation of a "long-lasting" supervision system that will make corruption "not only detectable, but also impossible."

Zhou said corruption cannot be eradicated while China's ruling Communist Party bans all political opposition and lacks an effective way to monitor itself. The party also has no laws requiring officials to publicly disclose their assets.

"China's new leadership wants to have a cleaner party, but if its anti-corruption movement goes too far, it would hurt the legitimacy of the political structure," Zhou said.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid