Raft of office-buying fuels disgust from Chinese

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Office-buying is just one facet of the pervasive corruption culture in China, where government officials routinely embezzle public funds, take bribes in awarding contracts, and favor family and friends in promotion.

China’s most notorious corruption scandal in years involves disgraced politician Bo Xilai, who is accused of taking “huge amounts” of money to seek profits for others through public power. His deputy Wang Lijun took money from businesspeople and other contacts, and in exchange, he released detained criminal suspects when his contributors asked. But there is no confirmed report that Bo bought or sold public office.

In Xilinhot, the mood alternates between indignation and resignation among retired cadres who gather every day in an old hospital administration building to exchange gossip over mahjong tiles and playing cards.

“I cannot understand today’s corruption. No one dared to do that under Mao,” said 73-year-old Wu Lagai, a retired weather bureau official who was watching a game of Chinese chess.

“I simply cannot accept it. Is this because the punishment is too light? I think that might be the problem’s source,” he said.

“There are countless Liu Zhuozhis,” said Wang Qi, a 70-year-old retired economic development official. “For village cadre and up, if you want any position, you pay for it. The more money you pay, the higher position you get. That’s an open secret. The public knows, but there’s nothing they can do.

“Unless Chairman Mao came back,” Xu said.

“Not even Chairman Mao,” Wang said. “It needs a thorough reform.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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