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A Corrupt Official’s Last Words before His Execution

[Editor’s Note: Wen Qiang (文强), former Deputy Director and Deputy Party Secretary of the Chongqing Police Department, was sentenced to death in 2010. He was charged with the crimes of accepting bribes, protecting and conniving with mafia-like organizations, possessing a huge number of assets whose sources could not be explained, and rape.

Wen Qiang started as a local policeman in Ba County, Chongqing and gradually moved up the ranks. Before he was taken down, he had solved several big cases and was highly regarded as a top police chief in China.

Bo Xilai, then head of Chongqing took Wen Qiang down. He later started a high profile campaign to “strike the black” (attack the mafia in Chongqing) to build his personal fame so that he could eventually seize the top leadership position in China from Xi Jinping. Critics alleged that many victims of his campaign were businessmen who were falsely accused so that Bo could take over their properties.

An article with what was said to be Wen Qiang’s statement before his execution spread widely over the Internet. He admitted that he had accepted bribes and had improper sexual relations with many women, but he claimed that corruption is a nationwide, systemic problem. Not only would any official in his position have done the same thing, but the officials criticizing him were also corrupt.

Though Wen was executed on July 7, 2010, his last words can serve as a good reference in the current anti-corruption campaign in China. It sheds lights on the breadth and scale of the official corruption problem in China.

The translation of his last words follows:] [1]

1. “I have thought it over clearly – I have participated in and known too many things. If I don’t die, many people won’t be able to sleep well. If I am not killed, they will face too many risks. My death brings more benefits to them. I could drag them down so we would die together, but (if I did so), my wife and child would be in danger. People said that I am a demon, but as a husband and as a father, I am not that venomous to my family. Many people wish me to die immediately. I will die. Before I die and leave (this world) though, I want to say a few words.”

2. “Many people said that I accepted a lot of money and slept with many women. I don’t deny those charges. What I want to say is that this is my fault and this is also NOT my fault. Of course, I still take responsibility. (But the fact is that) whoever was put at my position would also take in that much money and sleep with that many women, if not more. If I don’t sleep with those female students, other (officials) will. I was charged with rape, but was what I did really rape? Did I bite a lady’s nipple off?
[2] Did I throw a lady down the stairs? All I did was follow the rules of the game to do something that everyone in that circle did.”

3. “Everyone knows this: If an official does not accept bribes and does not have a mistress, who would dare to trust him and promote him? It doesn’t matter how good a job he does. Besides, there are several hundred thousand, if not several million, officials who behave the same way I did. Will the problem be solved by singling me out and executing me?”

4. “I also want to explain the reason that I started as a local policeman in Ba County and moved all the way up to be the Deputy Director of the Chongqing Police Department. It was not because of corruption. In fact, I am way better than those police officials who collect their pay but do nothing. My work (my achievements) came first; my accepting bribes was always second.”

5. “I, at most, was just a deputy director of the police department. (The charge said that) I could do anything at will in Chongqing. Who gave me that power? What did the higher official above me do (to stop me)? Who were those officials who knew what I did but pretended not to know?”

6. “Since (they) decided not to let me live, I will make the following point: The money I accepted was way more than what was found. Where was the rest of the money? I did accept money from people and in return, I helped them out. Sometimes I did it by myself, and sometimes I had to ask others to help. Can you ask others to do that without giving them money? Those officials who took money from me and those who gave me money are (denouncing corruption and) using me as a negative example. I don’t want to deny that the evidence is valid. However if you go their homes and have a look, you will observe that the money and artworks in my home are very shabby compared to what they have in theirs.”

7. “I have read many books. In the past, people in Beijing applauded when a bad person was beheaded, but isn’t everything still the same after a beheading? Has China changed from several hundred years ago? I don’t see much change. Executing me was only to keep my mouth shut. Could that fix the root cause of corruption? There were many people in Chongqing who lit firecrackers (to celebrate my sentence) yesterday. Weren’t there firecrackers when I closed the case of Zhang Jun? I want to see if they still light firecrackers three years from now. At that time, maybe those people who sold me out will think how good I was. Also, people who do not know the real situation may realize that I was better (than other officials).”

8. “There are people who hate me for not bringing the criminals to justice. Maybe I should apologize to them before I leave (the world). However, in many of those cases, if I didn’t accept bribes and help the bad guys out, they would have brought the money to my boss and have me taken out. Was this my fault? Did I have anything against the innocent people? Would I hurt them for no reason? They were victims. Wasn’t I also a victim?”

9. “Thirty years ago, I never took in a penny in bribes. At that time, they announced that I was a hero. Actually I was just working hard. Since they asked me to be a hero, I had to be a hero. Now they say I am a criminal. Did I have a choice not to be the criminal?”

10. “The officials nowadays are worse than those in the Kuomintang era (the late 1940’s). I am just one of them. It is the society and the system that turned me into this. That I said this much was not to dump all the blame on others. I was primarily responsible for (my problem).”

11. “If I was not promoted out of Ba County and stayed there as a local policeman, I wouldn’t be what I am today. Chasing fame and money is the biggest mistake that I made in my life. After my death, my child should change his last name and not use Wen anymore. All my descendants should avoid taking the political path to be an official. They should stay away from fame and money. A simple, peaceful life is a true blessing.”

[1] Phoenix Online, “Wen Qiang’s Last Words Made People Worry,” March 26, 2012.
[2] Gao Yan, former Party Secretary of Yunnan Province, was reported to have had a TV news reporter as his mistress from 1995 to 2002. When having sex with her, he bit her nipple off. Gao ran to Australia in 2002 to escape corruption charges., “Corrupt Official Bit off a Beauty’s Nipple,” January 3, 2011.