Learn from selfless Xi, Chinese TV says in graft documentary

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials should take a lesson from the selflessness of President Xi Jinping in not living extravagant lifestyles or separating themselves from the people, Chinese state television said in the latest episode of an anti-corruption documentary.

China's President Xi Jinping reviews honour guards during a welcoming ceremony for Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (not in picture) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Xi has waged a sweeping war on deep-seated graft since assuming power almost four years ago, vowing to go after powerful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”, warning the problem is so bad it could affect the Communist Party’s grip on power.

In the second episode of the eight-party warts-and-all show “Always on the road”, shown late on Tuesday, Xi’s simple life and close connection to ordinary people are contrasted with the high living and arrogance of the corrupt.

When Xi visited the southern province of Guangdong in late 2012, shortly after becoming party chief, no red carpets were laid out, no roads shut for his convoy and no luxury vehicles used, the show said.

“He stayed in a simple room, had buffet-style meals. All the details were self-evident of the practices he preaches,” it added, calling his actions a “model” for the party’s rules against extravagance and corruption.

It also showed the small, unadorned room he stayed in while visiting the northern province of Hebei in 2012.

“He ate very simply,” it said of the meals he had while there, and showed him interacting with poor farmers in their homes.

In contrast, the program presented the former party boss of the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, Wan Qingliang, jailed for life last month for corruption, as a model of what not to do.

Wan had a love of banquets, at which he was wined and dined by corporate types looking for a helping hand, and even went so far as to shut off his favorite restaurant in a scenic spot to the public, which has now been re-opened, the show said.

“When I was with them, they picked up the bill. Of course there are lots of companies present, and I thought they’d handle it, that it was nothing,” Wan told the program.

“I thought this was what everyone did, and I just went with the flow.”

The program interviewed a group of old people at the restaurant Wan was so fond of, who talked approvingly of how they were now able to get back in.

It was not possible to confirm if Wan participated willingly in the program, or to reach family members or lawyers for comment.

However, the party views contrition and confession favorably, and officials have avoided death sentences if they are judged to have shown remorse or cooperated.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie