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December 19, 2009

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Officials given a corruption lesson

A FACE-TO-FACE meeting with former officials jailed for corruption, intended to deter their successors, has sparked debate on whether it will make a difference in the nation's fight against corruption.

It hit the headlines when 54 Party chiefs and government leaders in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, met with their former peers to learn a lesson at an anti-corruption center adjoining the Nanjiao Prison on Tuesday.

"It was a good idea. I believe no one would like to commit the same mistakes after being exposed to harsh consequences," said Internet commentator "Tianyaxiaoxiaoke" on the Website of the People's Daily.

His opinion was shared by some on, a leading Website. "The experience could strike fear into visitors, and make them behave in the future," said one posting.

Li Yongzhong, chief researcher with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, said the meeting could play a positive role in preventing corruption.

Many others, however, deemed it "just a show" rather than a savvy anti-corruption strategy.

"The experience itself was not nearly enough to help officials resist the lure of money," said commentator Zhang Li in an article published in the Beijing Evening News.

Visitors said they were deeply impressed after listening to the tearful confession of a former middle-ranking official, who is serving a 10-year jail term for taking bribes in 2005. He blamed his crime on a "distortion of values."

Seeing pictures of their acquaintances, even close friends, sobbing, some shook their heads. One muttered: "It is not worth it."

In an exhibition hall covering 600 square meters, more than 100 corruption stories involving all ranks of cadres in the past five years were told in text and photos.

"We not only educate the visitors by condemning corruption, but also reveal the confessions of convicted officials to provoke thought," said Gao Xinyu, a worker at the center.

The visitors also got to see what life is like as a prisoner by watching the inmates' daily routine through surveillance cameras.

The anti-corruption center was built in 2006.


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