Shenzhen Officials, Living Large, Dine on Endangered Giant Salamander and Beat-Up Reporters Who Make it PublicPosted: 01/28/2015 8:40 am
China’s anti-corruption brigade had a busy year in 2014, netting tens of thousands of corrupt officials over the past two years. But no matter where graft-busters may lurk, some Chinese officials are still fearlessly willing to splurge on extravagant banquets when it comes to treating themselves to some exotic, endangered wild animals.
According to a report by Nandu, 28 officials in Shenzhen including government cadres, police officers and retirees are suspected of using public funds to dine at a high-end seafood restaurant in Luohu district, feasting on Chinese giant salamander, or Andrias davidianus, an endangered amphibian species protected by the Chinese government. The wild Andrias davidianus is called “living fossil” because of its rarity, and can sell for about RMB 2,000 per kilo. Still, that did not stop them from ordering the exotic dish.
When the newspaper’s undercover reporters revealed their identities, the officials allegedly beat them up. One reporter named Chen Lewei said someone smacked him hard on his left temple and slapped him in his face. He was shoved to the ground and his shoulder was stomped, he recalled. Another said he was scratched and his iPhone was taken. The videographer said he was held in a chokehold and his camera was smashed and taken away from him.
Shenzhen’s vice mayor said the government has launched a formal investigation into the allegations and visited the reporters in hospital. So far 14 officials have been suspended.
Chinese giant salamander, which is also known as “baby fish”, is considered a delicacy in the country and is often the target of illegal poaching. People believe eating it could have anti-aging effects and helps to treat dementia and cancer, which is leaving fewer of them in the wild.