Chinese Netizen Watches Officials’ Watches
Timepieces serve as telltale signs of corruption
A Chinese netizen shocked at the expensive timepiece worn by the minister of
railways at the site of the Wenzhou train crash has learned a timely trick for
seeing which officials are on the take: take a look at the watch on their
The blogger “Huagoushang General”—or Hua General—recently posted
on his microblog a list of watches worn by Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
officials, as reported by Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper on Sept.
Based on the officials’ average on-the-books incomes, there is little
likelihood that they could afford the custom diamond-embedded Omega Seamaster
worth over 200,000 yuan (US$31,331) recently sported by the director of a
provincial level department of finance.
Nor is it likely that such
officials as Vice Minister of Railways Lu Dongfu, Deputy Minister of Health Yin
Li, Vice Minister of Science and Technology
Zhang Laiwu could afford the watches Hua General identified on their arms—each
worth more than 40,000 yuan (US$6,262).
And an official’s salary
certainly couldn’t pay for the Patek Philippe watch worth over 700,000 yuan
(US$109,589) that Hua General saw a director wearing during a dinner in Beijing,
as reported on the Sept. 16 Qilu Evening News. Patek Philippe is a top end brand
often associated with royal families.
When higher ranking officials are
present, the watches tend to match the relative ranking, Hua General has found.
As reported by Qilu Evening News, Hua General said if a provincial governor
wears a timepiece worth 30,000 yuan (US$4,700), then the city governor will wear
one worth 20,000 yuan (US$3,100) and county director will wear one worth a few
In mainland China, civil servants are divided into five
ranks and 19 levels, with monthly wages ranging from few hundred yuan to over
10,000 yuan (US$1,566). However, officials of the same rank might have different
wages depending on the area they are in.
CCP officials are notorious for
their corruption, which allows them to live beyond their incomes.
May of last year, former Director of Fushun City’s Land
Planning Bureau Jiang Runli was charged with corruption. It was found that the
55-year-old Jiang owned six different pieces of real estate, 253 different luxury handbags, 1,246 items of designer clothing,
over 600 pieces of jewelry, and 48 luxury watches.
Hua General would not
have predicted that he would spend his time providing evidence of official
corruption by identifying the watches officials wear.
He claims that he
was the former CEO of a joint venture firm, and before starting his own company,
he worked closely with officials. Hua General did not think he would end up on
the opposite side from them.
Things changed for him as he watched the
TV coverage of the aftermath of the Wenzhou
train crash. The deadly crash of high-speed trains in Wenzhou City on July 23
has been heavily criticized by Chinese netizens as caused by official
Hua General accidentally noticed that the Minister of
Railways Sheng Guangzu was wearing a Rolex watch that is worth more than 70,000
yuan (USD$10,966). After searching for more images online, he was very
Hua General found that on different occasions, Sheng Guangzu
wore a number of luxury watches, including a Piaget Altiplano, Glashutte
Original Senator Automatic, Omega Constellation, and others.
only verify the exact model of four watches. They are worth a total of over
400,000 yuan (US$62,622),” Hua General wrote on his blog.
Hua General came by his knowledge of watches
naturally. He loved them as a child, and then acquired some professional
knowledge as an adult.
His methods of getting the goods on the crooked
CCP bosses are very simple. He uses Google image to search for “secretary
general,” “director,” and “provincial governor,” then looks for larger images.
Many of these images are clear enough to see the watches worn by the
Hua General believes the public has a right to know what
watches the officials are wearing, and mainland netizens have agreed. They see
Hua General’s efforts as a symbol of the
attempts to fight corruption in China.
Chinese officials seem to have a taken a
different view. Ming Pao reported on Sept. 19 that Hua General’s
microblog along with all of his posts has been deleted, likely due to
pressure from the CCP.
Read the original Chinese