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Corruption in China

Chinese official’s fetish for orchids and political gossip books lands him in criminal hot water

Wang Xiaoguang is being investigated for a range of alleged offences, including using government funds to renovate his home

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2018, 1:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2018, 3:00am

A Chinese official was sacked from his senior provincial job and expelled from the Communist Party because he was “addicted” to orchids and banned foreign books on politics, according to the country’s top anti-graft body.

The National Supervisory Commission released footage late on Thursday of former Guizhou vice-governor Wang Xiaoguang, 57, being stripped of his party membership and handed over to prosecutors for a criminal investigation.

“I have not been able to uphold my beliefs and ideals, my values have become distorted, I have decayed politically ... I have committed deep sin and have only myself to blame for all these,” Wang said in the video.

Besides facing the usual charges of graft, Wang violated party discipline governing the lifestyles of its members through his fetish for cultivating orchids, the commission said, without detailing how Wang pursued his passion for the plant.

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Orchids have traditionally been a symbol of a gentleman in China but in recent years collectors have paid more than a million yuan (US$146,000) for rare species.

Wang’s other alleged offences included embezzling government funds for a lavish renovation of his home, taking huge bribes, exchanging money and power for sex with numerous women, as well as advancing golf course projects that had been banned by the central government.

But also among his violations was his “enthusiasm for reading seriously politically incorrect overseas publications” – a veiled reference to books and journals of Chinese political gossip popular among mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong and other places across the border.

Wang is not the first official to be publicly vilified for his addiction to orchids.

Zhou Huaqing, the former executive director of a municipal culture bureau in Zhejiang province, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for taking around 350,000 yuan (US$51,000) in bribes, including orchids valued at 200,000 yuan (US$29,000), according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

In a separate video released by the commission on Thursday, former vice-minister of finance Zhang Shaochun was seen being expelled from the party and handed over to prosecutors.

Peking University anticorruption researcher Zhuang Deshui said the videos seemed to be a new tactic to deter cadres and officials, The Beijing News reported.