Pressure on GZ official leads to suspension, netizens discover he owns 21 properties

Posted: 10/15/2012 7:00 am

Online muckrakers have prompted authorities in Guangzhou to conduct an investigation into the property portfolio of a senior urban management official, according to Xinhua.

Cai Bin, a senior urban management official of the city’s Panyu District, was discovered by online muckrakers to own 21 properties along with his family, despite last year telling authorities that he only had two. He has since been suspended.

A picture of Cai Bin, from the Panyu District Government’s website

This is unlikely to amuse a public which has coined the term “house slave” to describe ordinary people who are enslaved to the struggle of paying for their houses.

In 2010, outspoken property developer Ren Zhiqiang had a shoe thrown at him for dismissing the claim that house prices were too high.

The investigation of Cai also raises questions about the role of the internet in exposing corruption.

Toward the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton said of authoritarian regimes that trying to control the internet was like nailing jello to a wall. The Xinhua report seems to kind of agree:

In China today, cyberspace has become an effective tool for grassroots people to help fight government corruption, one of citizens’ major complaints alongside a widening gap between rich and poor in the fast-developing country.

Another issue is that of government officials and wealthy people in general storing their wealth offshore. Cai Bin’s son, born in 1982, studied in Australia and already has Australian citizenship, according to China Eastday. Aren’t officials supposed to be patriotic?

In recent years, there have been several high-profile take downs of corrupt government officials, such as former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun and former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng. But this does not necessarily mean that people are satisfied that the system works.


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