China is an emerging superpower with a literacy rate of 90.9% and multi trillion dollar economy. Though its communist government is power yielding, it has encouraged privatization that has contributed to the country’s rapid growth. With its defiance of western political ideologies, strict regulations and restriction of free speech, China’s strict policies are feared and respected in equal measure.
But everything is not as perfect as it looks the Chinese government has seen its share of political scandals that have discredited those in power time and again. We discuss a few such scandals here that directly or indirectly involved the Chinese government.
Navigation Menu of the Top 6 Political Scandals in China
1. Chu Mei-feng Sex Scandal
2. Shanghai Pension Fund Scandal
3. Chinese Tainted Milk Scandal
4. Chen Shui-bian Money Laundering Scandal
5. Child Trafficking Scandal
6. Cyber Attacks Involving Chinese Government
– 6.1 Cyber Attacks Against India
– 6.2 Cyber Attacks Against Google
1. Chu Mei-feng Sex Scandal – 2001
In Dec 2001, a sex video of Chu Mei-feng, a Taiwanese politician was released by Scoop, a Taiwan based tabloid. Chu Mei-feng was a Taipei city council-woman during the time. The video that was circulated widely on the internet caused a lot of embarrassment to Mei-feng and the Taipei City Government. Investigations into the scandal revealed that Kuo Yu-ling, a friend of Chu had installed a hidden camera in her bedroom and sold the video to Scoop. Kuo was later charged with invasion of privacy, stealing and hurting public morality.
2. Shanghai Pension Fund Scandal – 2006
The Communist party Head of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu and many other officials were dismissed after misusing pension funds amounting to almost 10 billion yuans and diverting them into real estate and private railroad investments. Liangyu was sentenced to 18 years rigorous imprisonment on charges of fraud, bribery and stock manipulation. This scandal exposed that the extent of corruption among political parties permeates right from grass-root level to the very top of China’s political system.
3. Chinese Tainted Milk Scandal – 2008
After milk tainted with melamine caused hospitalization of hundreds of babies in China, the government accepted that it was partly responsible for negligence in supervising the accused dairy companies. The quality of Chinese exports have been attacked all across the world, but this particular case involving the health of babies came under severe criticism by international audiences and the Chinese public alike. The parents of hospitalized children sued the involved companies, prompting the government to send inspectors to the dairy companies’ factories for 24-hour supervision. Government officials were also fired for their failure to monitor these companies.
The scandal exposed the lack of standardized testing procedure that should have been introduced by the Chinese government from the collection of raw milk to the manufacturing of dairy products at factories. Premier Wen Jiabao admitted to a major Chinese newspaper that the government was partly to blame for this unfortunate incident.
4. Chen Shui-bian Money Laundering Scandal – 2008
Chen Shui-bian, former President of the Republic of China is currently serving life imprisonment at the Taipei Detention Center. Fondly known as “Son of Taiwan”, the 58-year old and his family were charged with money laundering, embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds in 2008.
The first family was awarded sentences by the Taipei District Court. Shui-bian and his wife were sentenced to life and fined $15.3 million. His son was sentenced to two-and-a-half years and his daughter-in-law for one year and eight months. The charges brought against him included wiring up to $20 million into different international bank accounts created under fake names. He has undergone hunger strikes in prison and maintains that he is innocent although he has made public apologies accepting his part in misappropriation of campaign funds.
5. Child Trafficking Scandal – 2007
Allegations of child trafficking in China’s Shanxi and Henan’s provinces and the government’s failure to stop the inhuman treatment of children were condemned in China’s media.
In a major police operation, 591 slave laborers, including 51 children were rescued after the parents of the missing children launched a campaign urging government action. The world looked on in disbelief as TV footage and internet videos showed images of malnourished child laborers who had been sold to traffickers for 500 yuans each.
It became a full blown government scandal after online forums criticized the ruling communist government for not taking immediate action. Local party officials told parents that they should have taken better care of their children, a remark that was slammed by the media and public. Policemen and local politicians were accused of conspiring with the traffickers and President Hu Jintao’s government was accused of turning a blind eye to the issue.
6. Cyber Attacks Involving Chinese Government – 2009 & 2010
6.1 Cyber Attacks Against India
The Chinese intelligence agencies have been accused of cyber attacks on India to steal top-secret defense plans. An e-mail embedded with a Trojan virus compromised India’s military information in recent times. The compromised documents were related to the Iron Dome mobile missile defense system, Pechora anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system, and Project Shakti, which is the advanced artillery combat and control system of the Indian Army. India’s intelligence agency RAW is looking into the matter and stepping up efforts to reinforce the country’s cyber defense system.
China was also accused of launching a cyber offensive against Dalai Lama’s office and the United Nations. A report, ‘Shadow in the Clouds’ said that the attacks were launched by cyber spies who had links to the Chinese underworld and information was passed to the Chinese government.
6.2 Cyber Attacks Against Google
A similar sophisticated cyber attack on Internet giant Google’s website drew a lot of suspicion towards the Chinese government who are opposed to free speech on the web and public forums. Attempts were made to access Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
In China, Google has been offering a censored version of its search engine in accordance with government regulations, but after the attack, Google has redirected Chinese users to its uncensored Hong Kong website.
After this attack, China has been publicly accused of corporate espionage. It is alleged that many US firms in the past have faced cyber attacks from China that are believed to be state-sponsored.
Political scandals come to light in all parts of the world – this only demonstrates that politics and corruption go hand in hand everywhere. It is just difficult to imagine a world with honest and ethical politicians. While the Chinese government has been embroiled in the usual sex and money laundering scandals, it is the recent cyber attack controversy that has the public wondering whether the emerging superpower will crush everything in its way to achieve its goals. Do you think this is truly the Chinese government’s intent?