Yang Dacai, former head of Shaanxi work safety administration, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for bribery and corruption by a Xi’an court on Thursday.
Yang Dacai […] was found guilty of taking bribes and holding a large amount of property which he cannot account for, at Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court.
The court ordered confiscation of the 250,000 yuan ($40,500) in bribes he took and over 5 million yuan of property he failed to account for. He was also fined 50,000 yuan.
If you looked at the headlines this morning, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Chinese government had declared war on smiling. (One headline even read: “Chinese official jailed for smiling at accident“.)
Yang first came to national attention when he was photographed grinning broadly at the scene of an horrific traffic accident that left 36 people dead in August 2012. The official’s grin was attacked as “inappropriate and unsympathetic”, though, as photos from court published this week show, a cheery smile seems to be his default expression.
Contrary to reports, and headline after headline, which emphasised Yang’s smiling as the cause for his downfall, he was in fact targeted by anti-corruption investigators after netizens circulated a series of photos showing his penchant for luxury watches: all of which were impossible to afford on a public servant’s salary.
After an initial investigation, Yang was dismissed from his post as a member of the Shaanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in September 2012. He was also thrown out as head and CPC chief of the provincial work safety administration.
President Xi Jinping has attracted much praise for his ongoing campaign against corruption, the biggest victims of which so far has undoubtedly been former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and Bo-ally Zhou Yongkang. A cynic might point out that Xi’s targets tend to be those who have already been roundly humiliated and convicted in the court of public opinion, and his political rivals.