On Bokee.com we read an article about Zhang Shaocang, a corrupt official from Anhui province, who seems to have cribbed his letter of remorse/self-criticism (悔过书) from similar letters written by other corrupt officials. The article claims that there is a striking resemblance between Zhang’s letter and the letter written by Zhu Fuzhong in May of this year. The writer of the Bokee article has inserted, in red text, the places where the writing of the two letters seems most similar. On a more sardonic note, the writer has, on the side column, written an outline of the “eight-legged letter of self-criticism”, where the “eight-legged essay” refers to the a form of scholarly writing used in imperial Chinese examinations known for being rigid, formulaic, originality-stifling format. They begin their essays by saying how they came from a poor background, had good intentions and character, and wanted to do something for their country. But then they began to slacken in their study of political thought and ideology, then emphasize that their mistakes were made in an environment where there weren’t enough checks on their actions and behavior, emphasize that they let down the Party and the people, and then beg the court for a chance to redeem themselves (i.e. they ask for a more lenient sentence.)
Some of the comments are kinda interesting: one commenter said (and here we paraphrase) “what matters is not the writing, but whether or not the officials really feel remorse for what they’ve done.” Another commenter claims that “crocodile tears are all the same,” while our favorite comment says that “without their secretaries and ghostwriters around, what do you expect them to do?”
There are also some links to letters of remorse/self-criticism written by others, a kind of “best of” list, including the one that “uses the most classical references,” the “most poetic,” the most “well-structured and logical” one, etc., etc.
Picture from bokee.com