Bethany Allen-Fbrahimian writes: It’s almost axiomatic by now that Chinese bureaucrats of all stripes should be careful what they wear on their wrist. On May 5, a sharp-eyed Web user spotted a host on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) wearing an Apple Watch on her left wrist while giving a news report that day. After the user posted screen shots of CCTV host Wang Yinqi and her expensive timepiece, the photos spread quickly on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, setting off a fervent debate about what counts as luxury and excess in contemporary China.

“Expensive watches have become a symbol of corruption in China ever since August 2012, when netizens unearthed an image of provincial safety bureaucrat Yang Dacai smiling at the scene of a deadly traffic accident — and wearing a luxury timepiece likely beyond his modest means.”

The photos initially attracted attention as an example of an ostentatious display; a spate of news articles and Weibo media posts on May 5 accused Wang of “showing off her wealth.” Some Weibo users chimed in to criticize Wang as well. “Official media should appear thrifty,” wrote one Weibo user, arguing that the image of official media and that of the government that controls it are closely related. More than one speculated without evidence that Wang, beautiful and in her mid-20s, might be mistress to a wealthy man.

Unknown-1

Those claims are harsh (and unsubstantiated) – but the vitriol toward China’s reviled state broadcaster is more understandable. While CCTV has often served as an important mouthpiece for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s nationwide anti-corruption crackdown, now into its third year, the state broadcaster itself has been embroiled in several scandals during that time. In July 2014, authorities unexpectedly detained one of CCTV’s most outspoken hosts, Rui Chenggang. That same month, authorities held senior CCTV executive Guo Zhenxi for suspected bribery, and in August 2014 they detained Huang Haitao, a prominent CCTV deputy director, for alleged graft.

[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]

Expensive watches have become a symbol of corruption in China ever since August 2012, when netizens unearthed an image of provincial safety bureaucrat Yang Dacai smiling at the scene of a deadly traffic accident — and wearing a luxury timepiece likely beyond his modest means. Read the rest of this entry »