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Graft scandal hushed up

A top official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) fled to the United States with millions of Yuan, it has emerged after net users posted the information of his escape on Chinese social networking sites earlier this week.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2012 22:49 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A top official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) fled to the United States with millions of Yuan, it has emerged after net users posted the information of his escape on Chinese social networking sites earlier this week.

State-media subsequently was forced to confirm the news only now though Wang Guoqiang, the CPC chief of Fengcheng city in Liaoning province in northeast China, is learnt to have fled the country in April.

It’s the latest corruption scandal to hit the CPC as it gears up for the leadership change later this year. It also comes as senior party leaders are repeatedly calling for clean governance and is being seen as a case where authorities had reportedly tried to cover it but failed to do so.
Wang has reportedly taken more than Yuan 200 million or USD 31.5 million with him.

“His disappearance in April did not come to light until the internet was abuzz on Sunday with posts claiming that he left with a large amount of money and had reunited with his wife in the United States. The posts alleged Wang fled amid the discipline authority’s investigation of a local company that has extensive dealings with the city owned by a former classmate of Wang’s,” the CPC mouthpiece, People’s Daily’s online edition said Wednesday.

The incident has triggered a debate among the state-run media about the efficacy of covering up scandals.

“Why didn't officials take the initiative to publish the news about Wang but instead allowed rumors to spread and let the issue be exposed by the media? Wang's flight is certainly a scandal. It would be good for the officials if such a scandal could be hidden, but that's hardly realistic.

Only when the public gets to know the truth about a scandal involving officials through normal means can the damage it causes be limited to the minimum,” government-affiliated Global Times said in an editorial on Wednesday.

The newspaper argued that if authorities could handle “mass protest incidents” in Qidong and Shifang – where thousands protested against industrial projects --, a single piece of bad news will not “overthrow China.”

“Information transparency in China won't come overnight. But it's undeniable that China will become more and more transparent. Although disclosing bad news may bring officials trouble at first, it is actually opening up a smooth road in the future. Simply covering things up only add risks,” it said.