Photo: Jacob Mee via flickr
A string of recent scandals at Beijing’s Palace Museum leaves the nation questioning the credibility and security measures behind the walls of China’s Forbidden City.In the most recent incident, museum officials allegedly covered up a 2009 embezzlement by paying 100,000 yuan, or $15,588, to keep a videotape from becoming public, sources told Caixin news.
The videotape was said to record tour guides and security guards pocketing ticket sales.
Instead of reporting the tape — along with a payment request of 200,000 yuan — to authorities, officials paid a lump-sum to an anonymous person to keep matters quiet.
The incident came shortly after accusations from a Chinese state television host that the Forbidden City was being used as an exclusive club for the wealthy. With $150,000 “membership fee,” anyone could supposedly transform the traditional walls into their own private club.
In July, the museum denied that five famous calligraphies from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) were secretly auctioned off or ever part of their collection.
A heist in 2011 prompted concerns of the supposed strict surveillance when a visitor “knocked a hole in the wall” and stole 10 million yuan, or $1.5 million, worth of 20th century items on loan from Hong Kong.
Three days after the theft, Beijing police arrested 28-year-old Shi Baikui at an internet cafe and part of the stolen pieces have been recovered.
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