China officials made to tour jail in corruption warning

A paramilitary guard stands before the bars of a main gate to the No.1 Detention Center during a government guided tour in Beijing on 25 October 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of officials have been investigated for corruption, with many jailed for bribery and abuse of power

The authorities in an eastern Chinese city sent local officials on enforced tours of a prison, as a warning against the temptations of corruption.

The group of 70 officials and their wives visited the facility in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province on 15 May.

China launched a crackdown on corruption shortly after President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

Since then thousands of officials have been investigated, with many jailed for bribery and abuse of power.

The jail visit was first announced by the country's anti-corruption agency, the Central Commission of Discipline and Inspection, in the Saturday edition of its newsletter.

The move was meant as "an educational warning... allowing them to experience life behind high walls and steel windows", it said.

Photographs show the officials and their partners visiting the prison grounds, where they got a chance to speak to former bureaucrats - some of them former colleagues - who had been convicted of charges such as abuse of power.

They also toured an exhibition featuring photos and written accounts from jailed officials.

The CCDI report said the group let out "sighs" as they recognised several of their "old mentors, colleagues and friends" in the exhibition.

They were also sent to an auditorium where they listened to testimonials delivered by prisoners convicted of corruption.

China has been waging an intense campaign against corruption. Authorities have urged officials to live a more frugal lifestyle and eschew expensive gifts and lavish banquets.

Local media have made much of the arrests and investigations into thousands of officials from low-ranking public servants to senior figures, most notably former security chief Zhou Yongkang.

But critics say that deeper structural reform of the political system is needed to eradicate corruption.

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