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The Party’s disciplinary inspec- tion commission of Fuyang City, Anhui Province, confirmed on May 9 that Liu Jiakun, former vice chairman of the Fuyang People’s Congress, had been detained for “violation of laws and Party discipline.”

According to the commission, the investigation into Liu, which began in February this year, found that he had taken bribes and misused power in various construction and real estate projects, personally siphoning 60 million yuan(US$9.5m) into his own pocket.

Liu was promoted to his present post in 2010. The corruption that would ultimately convict him, however, went on during his tenure as Party secretary of Taihe County, a prefecture under the jurisdiction of Fuyang City, though he began embezzling public funds during his first major political appointment – to the local branch of the Bureau of Land and Resources. The investigation revealed that Liu had been taking sizeable bribes from 2002 onwards.

Liu is just one more name on the list of Fuyang officials who have been promoted even when their crimes has already come to light. Behind this growing list lies Fuyang’s bureaucratic culture, in which corrupt officials collude with each other and bribery has become the norm. To some, Fuyang is a microcosm of China’s entire political system – one in which unaccountable public figures can abuse their position and thrive as career politicians, with impunity.

Pandora’s Box

Fuyang’s ongoing corruption scandal originated with an investigation into Wang Zhaoyao, the former deputy Party secretary of Anhui Province who in 2005 was accused of corruption and selling official posts.

The court tried to explain Wang’s corruption as a result of him being “psychologically thrown off balance” in 1990, his second year as deputy Party secretary of Fuyang, then a boom town in the vanguard of Chinese economic growth.

Fierce competition for local resources turned any government positions associated with resource allocation into highly lucrative enterprises. Wang Zhaoyao, as one of the most powerful local officials, found the temptation to simply sell posts to the highest bidder too alluring to resist.

“Why do other people get rich by doing business, and I, who works hard throughout the year, get so little?” Wang told investigators. “I felt I deserved some compensation.”

Wang accepted nearly 80,000 yuan(US$13,000), from a Linquan County deputy Party secretary in exchange for promoting him to Party secretary and appointing him to the Fuyang Politics and Law Committee.