China broadcasts the state-produced documentary to celebrate the success of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign.
According to the “Zero Tolerance” documentary film, China has disciplined almost four million government staff since Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012.
Zero Tolerance currently shows the eighth episode that the party has produced since 2014.
Contrary to the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) or Xi Jinping’s expectation, the documentary even exposes more apparently the CCP’s ugly characteristics, featuring through scandals of the CCP’s high-ranking officials.
First, the CCP officials are entitled to many benefits, living a life of privilege that money can’t buy.
Sun Lijun 孙力军, the former vice minister of public security who oversaw the national police force, recounted how he had received four or five boxes of “seafood” from a provincial police officer every year.
Each box contains $300,000 in cash, totaling $15 million over the years.
Sun said with a smile in the interview: “Every time he came and said, ‘I’ll send you some ‘little seafood,’ and I knew what was going on.”
Wang Fuyu 王富玉, former deputy secretary of the Hainan provincial Party committee, required businesspeople to buy his properties in three cities.
These properties must be ideal for his resting in different seasons: the tropical island of Hainan for the winter, the cool Guizhou plateau for the summer, Shenzhen’s southern city in spring and autumn.
Being an avid golfer, Wang owns himself a mansion on a golf course where he can start swinging a club right at the doorstep.
Chen Gang 陈刚, a longtime vice mayor of Beijing, used $20 million to build a private garden according to his design on Beijing’s outskirts.
The garden covers 109 acres and includes a Chinese quadrangle, a Western-style waterfront all-glass villa, a Japanese garden, an artificial white sand beach, an audio-visual room, and a massage room.
The Chinese public was both intrigued and shocked by the lifestyle. Some social media users even joked that the documentary appeared like a recruitment advertisement for civil service vacancies or a bribery guide.
Others wondered why the documentary’s subjects spoke with little remorse and even sounded boastful.
Some comments suggested that given how little this anti-corruption campaign seems to work, perhaps the party should conduct actual checks and balances on power.
A Weibo user wrote: “I don’t understand why ordinary people like us should watch ‘Zero Tolerance’. Is it a reminder of how poor and pathetic our lives are?”
Second, the CCP officials are usually indirectly involved in their corrupt cases. They took bribes under family members’ names or through companies.
The sons of two high-ranking officials in Inner Mongolia set up a coal company with no employees, no capital, and no actual business activity.
Their only “job” was to sign contracts that allowed them to buy coal at low prices and sell it at high prices. Both sons admitted in interviews that they had had this opportunity thanks to their fathers’ power.
When Zhang Qi 张琦, former Party secretary of Haikou, the capital of Hainan province, attended his son’s college graduation in Canada. A businessman accompanying Zhang gave his son about $80,000 worth of living expenses.
His son later “borrowed” millions of dollars from the businessman to buy luxury cars and invest in his business. According to the documentary, Zhang’s family received a total of $17 million in bribes.
Third, the CCP officials took advantage of their position’s power to make money.
The Chinese government’s top officials have a nearly-absolute control of the economy since the state, by law, owns almost all land, natural resources, and essential sectors like finance and banking.
Correspondingly, officials have enormous power and can choose business partners instead of open competition, leaving plenty of room for corruption.
Bai Xiangqun 白向群, the former vice-chairman of Inner Mongolia, said in an interview: “The biggest temptation is to have the final say.”
Wang LiKe 王立科, former secretary of Jiangsu Province’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission, came from a wealthy family.
However, his brother stated in the documentary that his father believed that making money as an official would be easier than making money as a businessman. As a result, the father used his money to buy Wang Like a position in the government.
Chen Gang, Beijing’s former vice mayor, said that he had used his power at his will in urban planning to take bribes. What developers could build and how much they could develop after getting the land depends on Chen’s benefits in return.
Liu Guoqiang 刘国强, former vice governor of northeastern Liaoning province, said of his corruption:
“It was all because I helped them develop from small to big, and they thanked me from the bottom of their hearts and gave me money.”
Liu has accepted 350 million Yuan worth of bribes, equivalent to $55million.
Fourth, The CCP officials said they felt remorse for their evil deeds while their expressions reflected the opposite.
Many social media users are skeptical about these officials’ confessions, saying that they sound like they tried to run away with the corrupt money but, unfortunately, got caught.
Wang Fuyu, a keen golfer, is described as a “two-faced” person. Wang said in a loud voice: “It was right to arrest me.” Yet, he kept collecting money from private businesses even a few days before being detained.
The audience’s judgment was unexpected to the filmmakers.
On the microblogging platform, a state broadcaster, CCTV, posted 1,500 comments, but fewer than 20 were made public.