Luxury orientation classes to fight corruption in China

Chinese anti-bribery agencies are organizing luxury orientation lessons for its officers in a bid to tackle the country’s rising corruption problem.

These include government officials “studying the fabric and cut of an official's tailored suit and the timepieces on their wrists," reported the Shanghai Daily last week.

The classes organized by the anti-corruption agencies teach officials on the basics of luxury products, including how to spot luxury items and differentiate between genuine and counterfeit luxury products.

“There was once a case in which we would have had no way of knowing that eyeglass frames could cost several million yuan if a bribed official had not confessed of his own accord to owning them,” a Beijing municipal officer told the Chinese-language Beijing City Express news daily earlier this month.

The lessons will also include learning how to spot the warning signs of corruption in modern China, often signaled by the flaunting of small luxury items such as high-end wristwatches and jewelry, products which should be out of reach for the average Chinese civil servant. According to the National Statistics Bureau, the average monthly salary of a government official in China is estimated at 5,000 yuan (US$788).

In a survey carried out by the Chinese-language People’s Daily last week on the move by anti-bribery agencies to organize luxury orientation classes, 71.3 percent of the 3,434 respondents supported the move.

Corruption among government officials is an increasing problem in China as numerous government officials in China have been caught photographed wearing expensive luxury items over the past year. A recent case is that of Yang Dacai, head of Shaanxi Province’s Safety Supervision Bureau, who was sacked last week after photographs of him wearing five different luxury wristwatches on different occasions, including a Vacheron Constantin model worth up to 400,000 yuan ($63,400), surfaced on Sina Weibo.