Sep 13, 2013 06:06 PM

Closer Look: Good Standing Requires a Clean Backside, Ex-Railway Official Says

(Beijing) – Former top rail engineer Zhang Shuguang entered a guilty plea to all bribery charges and in his remarks to the court said he'd learned stark lessons from his mistakes. Prosecutors accused Zhang of taking a total of 47 million yuan in bribes.

"Under the leadership of the Communist Party, becoming an official means that one must keep a clean backside," Zhang said at the end of his statement on September 10 in Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. "Everyone should learn my lesson

Zhang, 56, was born in Liyang, in the eastern province of Jiangsu. He first entered the Ministry of Railways with a position at the Bengbu Branch of the Shanghai Railway Bureau and later climbed the ranks to become a top official during the expansion of the country's high-speed railway network.

Zhang's trial followed that of the former head of the Ministry of Railways, Liu Zhijun, who on July 8 received a sentence that amounts to life in prison.

According to sources that attended the hearings, Zhang said in his final statement he hoped people would learn lessons from his fame, fortune and downfall.

Zhang climbed ranks through a deep technical understanding of the industry and he succeeded in winning the admiration of many. He claimed to have been one of the first students to attend university after the Cultural Revolution and was later sent abroad by the Ministry of Railways to further his studies. Zhang said he was inspired by a documentary he saw while studying in Japan.  In the film, the former top leader of China praised the Shinkansen, Japan's high-speed railroads.

In his final remarks to the court, Zhang proudly recalled the milestones of his career in the industry, which included building hundreds of factories and hiring thousands of engineers and workers. In less than 10 years, China formed its own high-speed railway system.

Speaking of China's railway development, Zhang became emotional, and admitted he was remorseful. "At the beginning, when I became involved in the high-speed railway projects, I was very cautious and always held a tough stance in negotiations with multinationals," he said.

However, he said he later gave in to desires for fame and fortune.

The prosecutors said Zhang spent more than 10 million yuan in 2007 and 2008 to try to get a fellowship at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, but failed. Zhang said this was his biggest motivation for later taking bribes.

He said he regretted his wrongdoing. "Going forward, I know that my living environment may be harsh, but no matter what kinds of conditions I face, I will make the best of what is given to me to contribute to the party, the state and the nation."

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