採訪/朱智善 編輯/黃億美 後製/舒燦
Zhao Benshan Splits from Sacked Officials to Save Himself
State run media recently criticized comedian Zhao Benshan’s
low class performance and his relations with sacked officials.
They say many photos of past officials have been taken off
his company wall, including Zhou Yongkang and Wang Lijun.
Zhao Benshan is known for his close interaction with top
officials such as Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun.
He’s not shy about his extravagant life style either.
Chinese media reported that Zhao’s Benshan Media Group
in Shenyang was an entertaining center for top officials.
Inside its building, there is a wall mounted with photos
of high officials who visit there, including former members
from the Politburo Standing Committee.
Along with the continuous downfall of officials, their photos
are disappearing off the wall, according to the report.
A big photo of Bo Xilai holding Zhao’s twin kids and of
Zhou Yongkang and Wang Lijung are among those removed.
Former journalist Liu Yiming believes Zhao is trying to
disassociate himself from the troubled officials this way.
Liu Yiming: “He’s definitely trying to avoid disasters,
but can he really escape them?"
“He was mixing with them—his quick removal of their
photos after their downfall is not an act of a gentleman."
Chinese have a saying that goes:
“a mistress is heartless and an actor is nonsense".
Zhao was criticized for fitting this saying very well.
Netizen, Ma Qiang says Zhao’s behavior is as expected.
Ma Qiang: “The old saying has it—the heartless mistress
and the nonsense actor; you can’t expect much from him."
“Frankly, Zhao Benshan is a grassroots turned actor, who
wanted to go up on the ladder and got acquainted with
those top officials, who happened to later be sacked."
Zhao and his media group are said to own assets
of over 480-million dollars (three billion yuan).
Allegedly, his most profitable media base in Shenyang,
occupying an area of 300 acres, could be worth more than
160-million dollars (1 billion yuan) but had cost him under
13-million dollars (80 million yuan).
Liu Yiming: “In China, any business will only get big by
colluding with officials—like an actress must sleep with
officials to get famous—this is the unspoken rule;
when a company is big in China, something must be wrong."
Zhao has been missing from CCTV Spring Festival galas since
2012 and from a number of entertainment circle meetings.
He’s faced much negative media coverage since late 2014.
Chinese media says Liaoning Province’s Trade and Industry
Bureau records show that Zhao’s Benshan Media
had a change in shareholders on Dec. 8, 2014.
Records show that shareholders were switched
from Zhao and his wife to Benshan Holdings.
Zhao used to be the biggest shareholder (60%)
with zero investment.
After changes, he became the smallest shareholder (19.6%)
with nearly 4-million dollars (24.5 million yuan) investment.
The change of shareholders is seen as a way
to escape a sticky situation.
It is understood that as a limited liability company,
the controlling shareholders are liable for relevant limited
responsibilities and obligations of the company.
In other words, legal or financial risks borne by Zhao will be
now greatly reduced should Benshan Media face problems.
Speculation that Zhao will be implicated in a corruption case
has brought focus on corruption in the entertainment circles.
Yang Weidong, Independent Filmmaker, Beijing: “It’s not
just the entertainment industry; it’s with fine arts too—
in the art galleries, the third wall is typically covered with
photos or inscriptions of leaders."
“There are only a few art works; it’s now too common that
art relies on the bureaucracy to survive—this is corruption."
“Artists now rely on the bureaucracy, not the arts, to profit."
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is
now probing artists such as calligraphers and musicians.
The CCDI website states:
“Being an official and making a fortune are different things;
politics and arts have clear boundaries;
leading cadres should not eat from an artist’s plate."
Yang Weidong says it’s common to see intimate relationships
between artists and top officials who like collecting arts,
and the bribing of officials with art collections.
Interview/Zhu Zhishan Edit/Huang Yimei Post-Production/ShuCan