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Corruption in China

Illicit books reveal lurid 'facts' of Shanghai sacking

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2007, 12:00am

Government silence over a Shanghai corruption scandal has opened up the market for several underground books, which claim to tell the true story behind the sacking of party secretary Chen Liangyu in lurid detail.


The Path of the Rise and Fall of Chen Liangyu and The Shanghai Social Security Case, Power Behind the Scenes are not available at regular bookshops. But street stalls and peddlers are doing a brisk business selling them for 10 to 25 yuan.


An online auction site is offering a book about the case allegedly published in Hong Kong and a DVD from Taiwan. Chen was removed in September for misappropriating Shanghai's social security fund.


The government had banned independent reporting on the case, journalists said. The Communist Party's propaganda department has warned national media to restrict coverage. Shanghai-based media face even stricter limits, in some cases forbidden from using reports by the state-controlled Xinhua without prior approval.


The restrictions have created conditions in which rumours and unofficial books can circulate. The latest rumour making the rounds among residents: Chen has been sentenced to 17 years in jail and a new government team is living in the historic Donghu Hotel to continue the probe.


The content of the books appears to be taken from overseas media reports, the internet, or simply made up. But the books also say things the government will not.


'In every part of the country, there are still many Li Liangyus, Zhang Liangyus, and Wang Liangyus. This has a universal nature,' said The Path of the Rise and Fall of Chen Liangyu, referring to corrupt officials. The publisher could not be reached for comment.


The Shanghai Social Security Case, Power Behind the Scenes from a publisher in Xining city shows photos of women and a sexually explicit account of Chen meeting an alleged mistress.


Besides the books, a document labelled 'internal reference materials' from Xinhua with excerpts from Chen's speeches is on the internet. Its authenticity could not be confirmed.


The document states Chen's defence of Shanghai's rising property prices and criticism of the central government, including President Hu Jintao .


'There's not a watermelon vendor who doesn't know the theory of supply and demand. But some of our party and state leaders don't understand and don't even know how to pretend they understand,' Chen was quoted as saying.


A government spokeswoman declined to verify the document. 'We won't comment on this kind of unofficial thing,' she said.