Property tycoon Huang Yubiao had long wanted to be a deputy in the National People's Congress. After failing to win a seat in the Hunan delegation in 2008, Huang set his sights slightly lower the next time around, targeting a spot in the Hunan Provincial People's Congress (HPPC). Huang had heard from friends in the Shaoyang municipal congress that paying bribes would help his election chances, so he neatly packed 1,000 RMB into 320 envelopes and distributed them to sitting members (Zhang 2013).
On election day, January 2, 2013, Huang emerged disappointed once again. His 320 bribes yielded only 241 votes, well shy of the 267 needed for election. He lost despite being nominated by the Shaoyang municipal government, which engineered the election of 76 of its 97 nominated candidates.
Disgruntled and slighted, Huang approached his co-conspirators and demanded that the bribes be returned, all the while secretly filming and recording the transactions. Weeks later, he went public with his story, posting the details on numerous blogs and websites.He even mailedmaterials directly to Hunan provincial authorities and called for the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC), the Party's corruption watchdog organization, to intervene.
In an interview, Huang described his motivations for coming clean:
I was dismayed after losing the election as some others won by bribe … I'm determined to sacrifice myself with real name reporting.My goal is to call for improvements for the current people's congress election system. Election organizers must make public the candidates’ information and their promisesmade during the campaign.
Huang cited altruistic reasons for seeking a seat, stating that he wanted to be a deputy in order a make a social contribution (Zhao 2013). He also believes his acts merited affirmation from the authorities and is confident that he will not face criminal charges for his attempted bribery (Zhang 2013).
Regardless of whether we believe Huang's stated motivations, his story suggests that seats may be worth something, and likely more than the proffered 320,000 RMB. Indeed, many netizens joke that Huang would have been more successful if he had properly valued the position (Li 2013). “One has to spend millions of yuan to be elected as a village head,” one lawyer commented on his microblog. “Now this person wants to spend only hundreds of thousands to become a provincial-level congress deputy.