BEIJING Oct 18 With a tale of a dead pet
tortoise given Buddhist rites and a senior official shedding
tears for his crimes, state television has begun airing a
documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes of some of
China's most dramatic corruption cases.
The eight-part series that kicked off late on Monday
promises an unusual warts-and-all approach to revealing the
story behind the dirty deals and extravagant lifestyles
uncovered by graft busters from the ruling Communist Party.
President Xi Jinping has waged a sweeping war on deep-seated
corruption since assuming power almost four years ago, vowing to
go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".
Three of those "tigers" get camera time in the first episode
- Bai Enpei, the former party boss of southwestern Yunnan
province; Zhou Benshun, an ex-party chief of northern Hebei
province and Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party boss of
Bai and Li have both been convicted, while Zhou awaits
The juiciest details come from the probe into Zhou.
Against a backdrop of images of a Buddhist temple and to the
sound of monks chanting, the documentary describes Zhou's
involvement in "superstition".
Party officials are not supposed to practice religion and
the charge of superstition is often levelled against the corrupt
to further blacken their names.
Zhou "set his expectations upon protection from supernatural
beings and was widely involved in superstitious practices", the
"After a tortoise died at his home, he specially had
scriptures transcribed and buried with it."
Zhou even had a nanny for his pets, investigator Wang Han
told the programme.
The three disgraced officials all admitted their guilt in
appearances on the show. It was not possible to confirm if they
participated willingly, or to reach family members or lawyers
However, the party views contrition and confession
favourably, and officials have avoided death sentences if they
are judged to have shown remorse or cooperated.
Describing his failings, Sichuan's Li, given a 13-year jail
term last year, struggled and failed to keep back tears.
"From a young age I hoped that under the leadership of the
party ... I could get progress for society, make the people
happy," Li said.
"In the end, because of myself, I didn't get there. I really
let the party down. I let the people down."
The show is called "Always on the Road", a reference to the
party's vow not to relax in stamping out corruption, and further
revelations are promised later in the week.
The first episode was widely discussed on Chinese social
media, with some saying they found Li's tears theatrical and
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)