Corrupt Chinese officials are now taking the center stage this week in “Always on the Road,” a new reality TV show in China in which accused government officials are shown confessing their crimes on national television.
The eight-part series will show former senior party officials who were caught during Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. It is produced by CCTV in partnership with the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, according to South China Morning Post.
The program, which seeks to shed light on the details of the persisting corruption in the Chinese government, began on Monday and will run daily until the following Monday.
The pilot episode, “Feelings of the People,” features former party secretary of Yunnan Bai Enpei. The politician was arrested at his home where authorities found an enormous inventory of bribes that included an assortment of valuables such as jade bracelets worth at least 15 million yuan ($2.2 million) each. The amount of evidence was so great that the CCDI staff took over 10 days to go through it all.
Sichuan’s former deputy secretary Li Chuncheng, who is currently serving a 13-year jail sentence due to charges of abuse of power and bribery, was also featured on the first episode.
“Life is like a live broadcast and can’t be lived over again,” Li said in tears, expressing regret for his greed in front of the camera.
It was hinted that Li has a connection with former Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang, the most notable big fish captured by Xi Jinping’s crackdown. While the episode featured a few scenes from Zhou’s trial, it is highly unlikely for Zhou to be a “guest” in the series.
So far the series has gained positive feedback from the Chinese state-owned media, but has earned some criticisms elsewhere.
Renmin University in Beijing’s political science professor Zhang Ming told SCMP that public humiliation of the corrupt Chinese officials on TV brings back memories of the cruelty of the Cultural Revolution, which signifies Xi Jinping’s tight control over the government.
Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing, expressed similar concerns, saying, “It sends a warning shot to those who are still in office.”