Date
18 January 2017
A padded cell for a graft suspect at the Ziyang holding center. Photo: Reuters/West China Metropolitan Daily
A padded cell for a graft suspect at the Ziyang holding center. Photo: Reuters/West China Metropolitan Daily

Padded cells, soft spoons for China graft suspects

Ever wonder what happens to the dozens of officials and company executives who go missing every few months in China, reportedly for “breaches of discipline”, a fancy term for corruption?

Most end up in detention for questioning in holding centers like one in Ziyang in Sichuan province.

It features padded cells to prevent suicide and soft spoons that cannot be made into weapons, Reuters reported, citing a state-run newspaper.

Since taking office three years ago, President Xi Jinping has embarked on a massive campaign to root out deeply ingrained corruption, warning, like others before him, that the problem could threaten the Communist Party’s grip on power.

While dozens of senior officials have been felled and hundreds more junior ones punished, some aspects of the purge have remained shrouded in mystery, including where suspects are held once they become subjects of an investigation.

In the Ziyang holding center, suspects can expect relative luxury in a low-rise building surrounded by greenery, pictures published Monday by the West China Metropolitan Daily show.

The images have since gone viral on other Chinese news sites.

The building has hosted 11 suspects so far, including senior provincial officials suspected of bribery, the newspaper said.

A menu is written on a chalkboard every day, but no fish is served lest the suspects choke to death on fish bones.

Sharp bones are removed from poultry, and no chopsticks are allowed, in case they are used as weapons, the paper said.

“Walls are padded to prevent suicide,” it said, as some officials prefer to kill themselves rather than face the shame of a corruption probe.

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