Planet China

The not so white house

The not so white house

Zhang Zhi’an’s pretensions to the Oval Office have well and truly unfurled. The bureaucrat from Anhui province caused a public outcry when he spent Rmb30 million ($4.4 million) to build a replica of the White House in 2007. The luxuriously hubristic office – built for officials in Fuyang city – quickly backfired. A Watergate-esque cover-up ensued when Zhang intercepted a letter by a subordinate accusing him of bribery and abuse of power. He gained revenge penning his own ‘anonymous’ letter attacking his accuser for embezzlement. The subordinate was eventually jailed (wrongfully: Zhang got the confession by threatening his family’s safety) and later committed suicide while imprisoned. So Zhang is now on trial for his role in the subordinate’s death. He’s also answering charges of soliciting bribes on 52 different occasions.

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