Monday, May 25, 2009

Chinese Corruption - Up Close and Personal

I just talked to my friend in Chengdu about her divorce case. She filed for divorce in China last May (2008) and finally had her day in court in front of a divorce judge a few week ago. The quick background story is that she got married to a lowlife jerk in Taiwan and they had a son. After marriage, the husband started staying out at night for days and weeks (probably having an affair), got into street racing and drugs, and her in-laws treated her like a servant. A few years ago, she came back to China with her son and she hasn't seen him or any child support money since. They agreed to divorce but since she doesn't have any proof from Taiwan, she decided to file separately in China.

Anyway, she spent about ¥5000 on lawyer fees so far and finally got her court date at the beginning of May. At the hearing, the judge went through her paperwork, asked some questions, and told her to wait for a decision. Since she was in Chengdu and the court was in Zigong (her hometown and where her houkou is registered), the court agreed to contact the lawyer. This morning, she received a call from the lawyer saying her case has been rejected. The reasons given by the judge was that her court was the wrong venue since my friend is living in Chengdu, and there was some affidavit that wasn't filed prior to the court date. Both are false since any government matter/petition needs to be filed in your "hometown" or houkou, and the judge never asked for the paperwork during the past 12 months nor did she mention it during the court proceedings. WTF?!

Pay Up Sucker! (credit: stigmata1967/flickr)

The lawyer then mentioned that this judge has a reputation for needing something extra on the side to decide cases in your favor. The lawyer actually suggested a "red envelope" gift or alternatively, my friend can take the judge, probably along with her entire family, out to dinner. My friend is headed back to Zigong tomorrow and had to withdraw some cash from her bank account in order to pay for this bribe meal. She's not sure how much she needs to spend but she has ~¥1000 on hand in case. That's a lot of money for dinner; last time I was in Zigong, a very nice 10-course meal for 6 only cost ~¥350.

The worst part about this whole thing, other than the delay and the extra cost, was the fact that my friend wasn't all that pissed off... just annoyed. It's as if she expected this to happen somewhere along the process. I guess corruption is so prevalent that it's just another problem people expect to deal with. She also said stuff like this is more common in smaller towns where local officials have more power. This seems to be true from news reports and my own personal experience with corruption happened in Zigong as well. My friend said I should blog about this (!) but we're both pretty sure it won't make any difference. Hopefully, this greedy judge will be satisfied with an expensive meal and won't drag this out like a Nigerian 419 scam.

I told my friend to take a photo with the "judge" during dinner so I can post her name and picture... after the court case is closed, of course. Unfortunately, even for a laowai like me, this level of corruption is not surprising. Despite the CCP's constant whining about Western media bias and "hurt" Chinese feelings, the Chinese people are being screwed by their own government. It's ironic to me that the most popular movie in China right now is 南京! 南京! Not to make light of the Nanking massacre nor all the atrocities during WW2 but who was responsible for the most Chinese deaths during the past 100 years? Not the Qing rulers, the Japanese, nor some other foreign invader. That "honor" belongs to Chairman Mao.


hogsman said...

Yes -- It's sad and frustrating to see how corrupt their government is. I think that's the case in most developing countries.

Anonymous said...

u are ABSOLUTELY right about Mao,
he is responsible for shocking mass murder. but unfortunately there are ultra nationalist who still working very hard to protect that truth from the public.