Son, Wife Or Foreign Friend: Favorite False Alibis For Chinese Damage Control

Rolls-Royce dealership, Hangzhou, China
Rolls-Royce dealership, Hangzhou, China
Zhang Fan

Putting the right spin on your words is a science. Obviously, the civil servants who owe a fiduciary duty to the public have an urgent need to master this subject. And it helps to shift the blame on someone else, a child, a spouse, or a convenient foreigner will do.

Two weeks ago Yang Dacai, head of the Occupational Safety Department of Shaanxi Province, became notorious across China because of his inappropriate smile when he visited the scene of disastrous transport accident.

He said that it was an “accidental expression.” Chinese netizens dissatisfied with this explanation did some research and found out that Yang owned five different luxury brand watches. Even as Yang was insisting that they had all been bought with his own income, even more watches continue to be discovered, each one more expensive than the last.

He responded that his yearly wage alone is around 170-180,000 RMB ($27,000-$28,000). When pushed further to explain, Yang came up with: “My son also adores watches. We occasionally share the same ones."

Ten days ago Fang Daguo, a political commissar of Guangzhou City’s Armed Forces Department, beat up an air hostess from China Southern Airlines. This triggered another huge denunciation online. Fang then claimed, through the propaganda department of the district he works for, that it was his wife who had had a conflict with the flight attendant, he himself did not participate in the incident.

Then came the exposure of the Hefei Children’s Welfare Institute, which spent a huge sum of money buying a Mercedes-Benz just to keep it idle in the garage. The director of the Institute justified his action: “The car is mainly used when there are foreign guests who came to Hefei to adopt a child.”

Three trump cards

Son, wife, and foreign guest: these three trump cards, however, did not silence or send away the public. On the contrary, it inspired the media as well the netizens to even more relentless pursuits of truth. An African student even exposed the lies of Fang Daguo. He had been a witness travelling in the same plane as the political commissar.

What is intriguing is the reason that each time some incident occurs, officials are always in a hurry to turn around their words, or even brazenly lie.

It’s because of China’s lack of system to publish officials’ assets that Yang Dacai can use his son as a justification. It’s because official institutes don’t have a transparent financial system that a charitable institute dares to blame their responsibility onto foreigners. And it is because bureaucrats shield one another and authorities always hasten to cover up scandals and maintain stability that Fang Daguo did not hesitate to proclaim a falsehood.

The consequence is that the public immediately sees the irrational excuses, full of obvious holes, of the concerned parties. Those in the spotlight and the public enter into a battle of wits, before the truth is gradually squeezed into oblivion. Instead, there should be immediate, clear, logical and vigorous investigation, and mechanisms for accountability.

Therefore in the face of a crisis, civil servants dare to say anything that strikes their fancy, because they believe the pressure is but temporary. All they need to do is find an excuse. Once the incident calms down, the accountability mechanism, questioning the flaws in their words, will simply vanish.

However, what the public and the society need most is clarification, not excuses or lies. Who then ought to question the truth and stop these absurd public spectacles? Until someone steps in, all these events deplete the government’s credibility and damage the existing foundations of society.


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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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