“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.
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.
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. Further images of Yang’s wrist-wear soon went viral on the Chinese web, sparking a grassroots campaign to oust him from office. It succeeded, and in September 2013, Yang was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption. Since then, party leaders have been careful either not to purchase luxury watches, or at least not to wear them in public.
Apple’s new watches are harder to categorize. The most expensive, retailing at up to $20,000 and called Apple Watch Edition, seems tailor-made for China’s still-massive luxe market; the priciest model sold out in China within two days of its offering…(read more)