As any local Chinese will tell you, China is rife with corruption. In Transparency International’s 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index, China ranked 71st on a list on a list of 163 countries, ranked in ascending order based upon their perceived levels of corruption. While the government is quite publicly addressing corruption and it ain’t exactly Haiti (#163), China has unfortunately earned a reputation for corruption and other forms of skulduggery and created a stereotype that is not likely to fade anytime soon.
While we are certainly not fans of stereotyping, there is a crude utility in it, and occasionally, along comes a case that ruthlessly reinforces these notions. And so it seems that one such instance has arisen in connection with the giant, protracted, politicized, purging pension fund scandal, wherein one man attempted to place a proverbial cherry atop Shanghai’s double-fudge, fraud and corruption sundae.
According to the Shanghai Daily police in Xingtai City in Hebei Province arrested 50-year-old Li Hailong for impersonating an official from the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China and attempting to extort payments from more than 100 government officials. The officials, Li said, were linked to disgraced former Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu, and in his letters, Li threatened action against the officials if they refused his demands for payment.
Further, the Shanghai Daily writes that Li, something of a career criminal, previously extorted the head of the Haier Group in 2003, but police were unable to find him. However, according to BBC Monitoring, police collaborating in Shanghai and Hebei were able to locate and arrest Li on November 21, after he checked his bank account on an ATM close to his home. Upon Li’s arrest, BBC Monitoring writes, “the police discovered in his home another 100 blackmail letters and rosters of Chinese government agencies and local governments and companies in Hebei and confirmed his handwriting. The police said the blackmailer didn’t demand an exact amount of money and no officials paid him.”