How Wang Fuyu, a provincial-level leader, takes over $68 mln bribes
Partial transcript of TV series "Zero Tolerance" EP02
From Jan. 15 to Jan. 19, the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) 中央纪委, the top Party discipline watchdog which doubles as National Supervisory Commission (NSC) 国家监委, and China Central Television 央视, broadcasted a five-episode TV series called Zero Tolerance 零容忍 on CCTV1 at prime time. Each episode featured around three cases with exclusive details and jaw-dropping footage.
The TV series was released days before the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC CCDI, a key meeting which are usually tone-setting times for China's anti-graft work. It was at such a meeting nine years ago, when Xi Jinping, who was just about two months into his role as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, vowed to crack down on high-ranking "tigers" as well as lower-level "flies" involved in corruption.
This is a translation of the first case in EP 02 transcript [Chinese], which involves Wang Fuyu, former Party secretary and chairperson of the Guizhou provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who was filmed admitting to taking bribes worth over 68 million U.S. dollars. My colleague Wang Zichen, who was known as Pekingnology, has translated the first case and the third case in EP 01 transcript [Chinese].
[Commentary]: The 19th National Congress has made a strategic plan for exercising full and strict Party self-governance. The CPC Central Committee has systematically conducted a thorough review of the valuable experience of the Party's practice of self-reform 自我革命 over the past century, and fully recognized the important experience of the practice of full and strict Party self-governance 全面从严治党 since the 18th CPC National Congress. With no relaxation or stops, it has been consistently exercising full and strict Party self-governance and promoting the fight against corruption. However, under the high pressure of anti-corruption, some Party members and officials still show no signs of humility or pulling back. For these people, no matter if they are senior officials in important positions, or the primary-level party members and officials, as long as they are found to break laws or disciplines, they will be investigated and punished with no tolerance or exceptions.
Wang Fuyu: They got me. They did the right thing. It was a wake-up call to those who indulge in presumptuous self-conceit, warning that cadres must not have such problems anymore in the future.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu had been served as a provincial-level leader for more than 20 years, during which he worked in Hainan and Guizhou and held important positions such as member of the standing committee and deputy secretary of the provincial committee of the CPC, and chairperson of the provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Wang retired in 2018. In February 2021, the CCDI and the NSC announced that Wang was under investigation for suspected severe violations of Party disciplines and laws.
Wang Heng (deputy director with the Tenth Supervision and Inspection Office of CCDI/NSC): Wang's case highlights the fact that the wide coverage and zero tolerance 零容忍 for CPC Central Committee's anti-corruption work, without any "no-go areas." Wang began to violate the law and take bribes since the 1990s. Until a few days before he was detained, he was still taking money from private business owners. His illegal activities had been continuing for a long time and hiding very deeply.
[Commentary]: It was found that Wang had taken advantage of his posts and influence to benefit certain individuals in securing construction project contracts, land development, business operations and other matters, and illegally accepted huge amounts of money and gifts. The investigation team found that a number of properties involved in the case, some of which were accepted directly by Wang, some were purchased by Wang illegally or in a way violating the discipline, and some were purchased by business owners and then provided for Wang's long-term use. This is a luxury villa in Guiyang city (referring to the scene showed in the episode), southwest China's Guizhou province, for Wang's long-term use. The high-grade decoration of the villa was funded by a business owner who had a close relationship with Wang. The villa had a movie theater and gym, and all the furnishings were exquisite.
Wang Fuyu: I regret that I failed to withstand the test of reform and opening-up and my original aspiration and founding mission 初心使命 were gone. I even lost the mindset of treating the world with awe 敬畏之心.
[Commentary]: Interestingly, the Chinese calligraphy hanging on the wall in the living room of the villa all boasted Wang's care for the people and his indifference to fame and fortune. The calligraphy on the middle side of the wall was a famous quote from a magistrate during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911): "Remain indifferent whether obtaining or losing an official position, never say that official is useless as everything in a region depends on its governor; the source of eating and wearing is from the people, never say that people can be deceived as official also comes from the people." “得一官不荣，失一官不辱，勿说一官无用，地方全靠一官；吃百姓之饭，穿百姓之衣，莫道百姓可欺，自己也是百姓。” The two pieces of calligraphy on the two sides of the wall are a pair of couplets given to Wang Fuyu by a business owner: "Being a man with a good heart as clean as jade, the energy of caring for the people is as rich as God." “做人好心洁如玉，为民精神富若仙” To flatter Wang, the business owner racked his brains to hide Wang Fuyu's name "Fu" (Fu 富 means rich in Chinese) and "Yu" (Yu 玉 means jade in Chinese) in the couplets. The contrast between the calligraphy on the wall and the luxury villa is a vivid portrayal of Wang's "two-faced person" “两面人” style.
Wang Heng (deputy director with the Tenth Supervision and Inspection Office of CCDI/NSC): Wang Fuyu superficially behaved as a clean and honest official, but in fact, Wang has very serious problem of pleasure-seeking and pursuing extravagant life. He even thought of living in Sanya (a tourist city in south China's Hainan Province) in winter, Guiyang in summer, and Shenzhen in spring and fall, so he requested business owners to buy him houses in Sanya, Shenzhen and Guiyang, and then renovate them.
[Commentary]: This villa was adjacent to a golf course, with endless green space outside the window. Wang Fuyu loved playing golf. He could play downstairs any time he wanted there.
Wang Heng (deputy director with the Tenth Supervision and Inspection Office of CCDI/NSC): In the 1990s, he first learned how to play golf and became so obsessed with it that he played in Hainan and Guizhou and continued to play after retirement. He even asked business owners to arrange a private jet for him to play golf around the country.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu has served as mayor and secretary of the CPC municipal committee in Haikou, Sanya, Qiongshan in Hainan Province. More and more golf courses gradually emerged in Hainan as the province developed the tourism resort sector. Wang Fuyu was then hooked on playing golf. It was also the golf course on which Wang made friends with many business owners.
Wang Fuyu: Playing golf created a lot of problems. What were the problems? The decision to ask someone to buy me houses was made on the golf course. The decision to take bribery was made on the golf course. Wasn't that corruption? Wasn't the golf course a corrupt trading place?
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu began to accept large amount of bribes while working in Hainan, and he had an idea of leaving a way out of the country open from the start. In 1995, he broke the rules to go through immigration procedures for himself, his wife and his daughter. It was not until 2009 that he cancelled the immigration plan for fear of jeopardizing his career.
[Commentary]: From 1994 to 1998, Wang Fuyu served both as the mayor and the secretary of the CPC municipal committee of Qiongzhou, south China's Hainan Province, having the first taste of "being the head."
Wang Fuyu: When I became mayor and secretary in Qiongzhou, I let my guard down and allowed business owners to buy me property.
[Commentary]: In exchange, the one who bought Wang Fuyu houses was able to contract part of the Hairui Bridge project, a key project in Qiongshan at the time.
Wang Fuyu: Hai Rui (1514-1587, a famous upright official of the Ming Dynasty) was from Qiongshan. He was a forerunner of anti-corruption in Chinese history. I named a bridge after such a man, but I myself took bribes.
Hairui Bridge in Qiongshan, Hainan Province
[Commentary]: Since then, Wang Fuyu has arranged for a number of business owners to purchase multiple properties in multiple locations for him and put the properties under the names of Wang's relatives. A large amount of money which Wang Fuyu accepted was kept by his brother Wang Fu.
Wang Fu (Wang Fuyu's brother): The money was in my account. Whenever I was given some money, I always put it into my account.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu also asked Wang Fu to created a fake ID card in Henan Province under the pseudonym "Chen Xin." Wang Fuyu himself created a fake ID card in Hebei Province under the pseudonym "Chen Kexiao," and registered multiple bank accounts with fake ID cards. He deposited hundreds of millions of yuan in those accounts.
Fake ID cards and bank acconuts
Wang Fuyu: I took bribes in Qiongzhou and bought properties, and then I became member of the standing committee of the provincial committee of the CPC (Hainan). I lost the mindset of treating the world with awe and took discipline and law for granted. That is the root cause of my mistakes.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu thought that he was well hidden and no one would find his flaw. With a high-powered job while no one could monitor him, Wang gradually lost the mindset of treating the world with awe, and did not pull back after the 18th and even the 19th CPC National Congress.
Wang Heng (deputy director with the Tenth Supervision and Inspection Office of CCDI/NSC): Wang Fuyu lacks the mindset of treating the organization with awe. His awareness of discipline and law is weak, and he likes to leave things to chance. More than 70% of the total amount of suspected bribes he took was made after the 18th CPC National Congress, and more than 30% was made after the 19th CPC National Congress.
[Commentary]: In 2012, as Wang Fuyu served as vice chairman and then chairman of the Guizhou provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, he felt that he had come to the last stop before retirement, so he went cazier in accumulating wealth. As the CPC Central Committee strengthened the clampdown on corruption after the 18th CPC National Congress, and provincial and ministerial level senior officials around the country were caught one after another, even Wang Fuyu's brother advised him to consider to stop. But Wang took it for granted.
Wang Fu (Wang Fuyu's brother): I said to him: You should stop taking others' money. Just enjoy your peaceful twilight years. How much money is enough for you? I said that now the CPC Central Committee was making serious investigations and it should not be taken lightly. After our talk, he did not say anything, and then I saw that he did not pull back.
[Commentary]: Moutai liquor is a scarce resource in Guizhou Province, and Wang Fuyu naturally would not miss the opportunity to take advantage of the resource. He used his power to obtain the qualification to operate the Moutai store for his son Wang Bin, and also illegally obtained a large number of quotas of fine liquor of Moutai, earning huge profits. In 2014, Kweichow Moutai Group invested in the development of a resort hotel in Sanya, and businessman Shen asked Wang Fuyu to help him to secure the contract of the construction project. Wang Fuyu asked his brother Wang Fu to work with Shen in the name of "cooperation" and he hid behind them to control the operation.
Wang Fu (Wang Fuyu's brother): I don't have to worry about the details of how he operates the projects. In Hainan, I am actually an agent.
Wang Fu, Wang Fuyu's brother and “agent” in Hainan
[Commentary]: In accordance with Wang Fuyu's instructions, Wang Fu went to Hainan to accompany Shen to invite the head of the Moutai project to dinner, during which they called Wang Fuyu.
Gao Shouhong (former member of the Party Committee and vice general manager of Kweichow Moutai Group): It was the leader's voice on the phone, "How are you, Shouhong? I wish everything went well with your work. I wish you all the best. My brother will also take care of you over there. Feel free to let us know if there is anything we can help," I said "Thanks for your concern." That is all about the phone call. When we finished the phone call, I understood what was going on. Wang Fuyu's brother then spoke directly to me saying that it was the idea of Wang Fuyu and asked me to take care of the deal. I said that no problem, as it is the idea of the big boss, I will carry out the instructions.
[Commentary]: After that, Shen successfully won the bid for the project. Wang Fu, as a "partner" of Shen, reaped 45% of the total profit. From 2015 to 2020, Shen transferred the money to Wang Fu step by step in accordance with their agreement.
Wang Fu (Wang Fuyu's brother): It was a total of more than 60 million yuan (about 9.43 million U.S. dollars). Wang Fuyu would not be able to handle it if he was given such a large amount of money. He told me to keep the money for him.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu also took huge bribes through his son Wang Bin by playing the same trick of "cooperation" with others to do business. A private enterprise doing landscaping business in Zhejiang Province gave more than 60 million yuan to Wang Bin in such a way. Wang Fuyu helped the company secure a series of contracts for large projects in return.
Yao Xingfu (Businessman involved in Wang Fuyu's case) : We built a joint company with Wang Bin. But think it over from another perspective: If his father was not a deputy secretary of the provincial committee of the CPC, who would work with him? For a small company like us, if we do not have connections with Wang Bin, it is impossible to secure such type of project.
Yao Xingfu, businessman involved in Wang Fuyu's case
[Commentary]: Under continuous anti-corruption pressure, Wang Fuyu tried to evade supervision by helping business owners first, and then accepting their money when he retired, which can be called a typical "option corruption."
Wang Heng (deputy director with the Tenth Supervision and Inspection Office of CCDI/NSC): Business owners had a promise to him, saying that it is inconvenient for you to take money as you are on the post. We can compensate you when you retire. When Wang reired, he thought that he had "landed" safely and took the initiative to call and remind those businessmen that it was time to honor the promise.
Wang Fu (Wang Fuyu's brother): He became more aggressive in retirement as he just didn't care any more. A lot of money was transferred. We used to do it in cash as a way to hide from supervision. After retirement, it was direct account transfers. He felt that he had escaped from officialdom since he retired, so he should be safe.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu stood trial on November 30, 2021 at the Tianjin First Intermediate People's Court. Prosecutors alleged that between 1995 and 2021, Wang took advantage of the public offices he held to benefit certain organizations and individuals in terms of business operation, project approval, job promotion or transfer, case handling, and other matters and took bribes worth over 434 million yuan (about 68 million U.S. dollars). The court also found that Wang accepted money and gifts worth 17.35 million yuan using his influence after leaving the previous posts. In his final statement, Wang pleaded guilty and expressed remorse. The sentence will be announced at a later date, the court said. (In January 2022, the court announced that Wang was given suspended death sentence for graft)
Wang Fuyu: I don't know what I need the money for. I have enough to live on for life. What do I need money for? I buried myself! I now realize that my insane greed has reached the limit, but I don't know why I need the money.
[Commentary]: Wang Fuyu seriously misjudged the determination and will of the CPC Central Committee to fight corruption. Being a ministerial-level official is not a talisman. Retirement does not mean that he is on a safe island. No matter how long the disciplinary problems have been hidden and how many they have accumulated, they will be exposed one day, and the price to pay for that will only be higher.
Wang Fuyu: Those were all my problems. My world view, outlook on life and values have all gone wrong. I am convinced that I myself have taken the wrong path.