China’s ‘ping-pong prince’ isn’t the first bigwig to get in trouble for gambling

Other party members and civil servants have seen careers ended - or worse – for violating ban

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 9:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 9:53pm

A lawsuit by a luxury hotel-casino in Singapore could take it all away from China’s ping-pong prince Kong Linghui – including his job, because he is a Communist Party member and public official.

Kong, a former Olympic gold medallist, was suspended as head coach of the Chinese women’s table tennis team after being sued in Hong Kong by the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore over a gaming debt of HK$2.55 million (US$329,000). This was a “serious violation” of discipline for a national public official, the government-backed Chinese Table Tennis Association said in a statement on Tuesday.

Former Olympic gold table tennis player Kong Linghui being sued for HK$2.5m by Singaporean hotel

Gambling is illegal in mainland China, but ordinary Chinese are allowed to partake when they visit places like Macau or Las Vegas. However, party members and officials paid a salary from public funds are banned from doing so.

Kong is not the first high-profile figure to get in trouble for gambling outside of the mainland. Here are a few cases:

1. Lai Derong, a former vice-chairman of the Guangxi People’s Political Consultative Conference, was removed from office after he was found “gambling abroad several times” as well as accepting bribes.

China’s ‘ping-pong prince’ suspended from coaching duties after being sued by Singapore hotel

2. Ma Xiangdong, a former Shenyang vice-mayor, was a big gambler in Macau before he was executed in 2001 for taking bribes and embezzlement. In the preceding two and a half years, he had often been to the former Portuguese enclave with his subordinates to gamble. In one visit, he lost tens of millions of yuan in just three days, mainland media reported.

3. Former Chongqing propaganda chief Zhang Zonghai was found to have lost more than 100 million yuan (US$14.6 million) in public funds in Macau along with his subordinates. Zhang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking bribes in 2005.