Multiple identities: a recurring theme in Chinese corruption

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 7:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 9:26pm

With an impending graft crackdown hot on their heels, increasing numbers of Chinese officials are being caught in possession of “multiple identities”.

The recent trend of acquiring multiple hukou – or household registration permits – is allowing corrupt individuals to sidestep government regulations regarding asset procurement and gain access to public services such as education and health care. According to a report in the Beijing Times, a second hukou can be bought under the table for a cool 100,000 yuan (HK$123,000).

News magazine China Newsweek ran a list on Sunday of China’s most prolific ID forgers starting from 2002 all the way to 2013:

  • Gong Aiai (the Shanxi house sister) was the first to make the headlines this year. The former Shenmu County Rural Commercial Bank chief was accused by netizens in January of registering two sets of hukou to purchase Beijing properties worth one billion yuan (HK$1.24 billion). Gong claimed she was motivated by “superstition” and said all her properties were purchased legitimately using profits from her family’s coal business.
  • Zhang Yan (the Shanxi house daughter-in-law), an official from the discipline commission in Yuncheng city, Shanxi province, was found to have illegally registered hukou in both Yuncheng and Beijing. 
  • Zhang’s father-in-law, Sun Taiping, formerly the head of the city’s finance bureau was also accused of owning close to a dozen properties across the country, including two in Beijing. Zhang’s husband was sacked as Xiaxian county’s police chief last year.
  • Zhai Zhenfeng (Zhenzhou house sister), a former top housing administration official in Zhengzhou drew heat last December after the Hong Kong-based Sing Pao newspaper ran a report claiming Zhai’s “post-90s” daughter was in possession of 11 flats (the largest at 258 square metres). The Beijing News eventually discovered Zhai had two hukou permits each registered under a different name.
  • Chen Wenzhu, who ran the tobacco monopoly in Shanwei, Guangdong, was accused of using forged ID and hukou cards to travel to Hong Kong and Macau 74 times. Chen was sacked from his post and expelled from the party for corruption in 2011.
  • Hu Xing, former deputy director of Yunnan province’s Transportation Department was sentenced to life in prison after he was found to have abused his power to seek “illegitimate interests” for his relatives and himself. He fled in January 2007 but was captured in Singapore a month later. According to reports at the time, Yunnan’s Public Security Department had found fake documents, passports and even a fake Macau identity card in his possession.
  • Gao Yan, the then-managing director of the State Power Corporation, mysteriously disappeared in August 2002, prompting Hangzhou officials to offer a 200,000 yuan reward for information on his whereabouts. According to reports, Gao was in possession of three different identity cards each with different names, four Chinese passports and exit-entry permits to Hong Kong and Macau.