According to recent Chinese media reports, the Cultural Market Management Office of Weinan (渭南) in China’s northern Shaanxi province, an office under the local Cultural Department, has been running a lucrative racket by charging monthly “management fees” (管理费) of 1,000 yuan to the hundreds of local Internet cafes it is charged with overseeing, and by levying sky-high penalties for the smallest of infractions. Local Internet cafe operators who spoke with Chinese media said the levying of penalty fees generally happened at lavish dinners at which the cafe operators were asked to foot the bill. Media reports said the office’s lucrative rent seeking activities have necessitated the office’s personnel expansion far beyond the eight officials under formal contract (编制). At least 62 additional people are listed as earning wages from the office, and a total of 54 work there regularly. In this cartoon, posted by artist Fan Jianping (范建平) to his QQ blog, an octopus stretches its tentacles of self-interest out of the “Cultural Market Management Office,” grabbing piles of cash from frowning Internet cafes.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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