Amid the corruption crackdown, Chinese officials are finding they need more subtle ways of extorting funds than the hongbao. For some that means salon gift certificates and Cartier watches, but, Xinhua finds, that some of the more refined, corrupt officials choose to finance their photography.
Photography is a growing hobby in China, but can also be quite expensive. This is not a problem for public officials looking to trade public funds and influence for top-of-the-line lenses.
One notable shutterbug official is Qin Yuhai, a top official in Henan province and also a renowned photographer. He was the director of the China Photographers Association, won a top national in 2005, and his work was featured in the Beijing subway, until very recently. You can check out his work on water on his website —though, the ‘Supporters‘ section might be missing a couple benefactors.
According to Xinhua, Qin would often take photography trips on the weekends bringing along expensive photographic equipment supplied by private businessmen. The value of the equipment is reported to be several million yuan and Qin is now under investigation for, “serious violations of party discipline and the law.”
As investigators closed in, Qin began returning or just ditching the gear as fast as he could. His current whereabouts are unknown, according to the Wall Street Journal, but hopefully it’s somewhere photogenic and he managed to keep at least a point-and-shoot on him.
The most revealing revelation from the Xinhua report involved a Henan official (not necessarily Qin), who used a police helicopter in order to take pictures of swans. Unfortunately, his strategy failed when it turned out that swans are somewhat skittish around choppers.
Qin’s work is gone from the Beijing subway, but he won’t soon be forgotten.
by Alex Linder
[Images via ifeng.com]