Two officials in China’s southern Guangdong province were arrested after it emerged that they had bought corpses from local grave-robbers and had them cremated in a bid to fulfill state-mandated quotas for such funeral practices. The incident is yet another reminder of the awkward tension between Beijing’s edicts and entrenched traditions in parts of rural China.
The arrested duo were officials responsible for local funerary practices, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. One allegedly paid a grave-robber $489 each for 10 exhumed corpses. The officials needed to meet expected quotas for cremations reported in their jurisdictions (towns that state media has not specified). Many locals entomb their kin in secret to skirt state laws regarding burial, which probably made the officials’ job rather difficult.
“Pushed to meet their quota, the two officials sought to purchase the corpses and send them to funeral parlour for cremation,” Xinhua reported.
And here is a rather vivid two paragraphs:
Body-snatching is, therefore, a lucrative, illicit business, involving bribe-taking local officials who look the other way, specialists capable of dressing up cadavers, and middlemen willing to connect desperate families to organized rings of grave-robbers and body-snatchers.
The practice of burying “ghost brides” also remains very much in the headlines. The old ritual involves burying a deceased young female alongside a dead bachelor, so the male will not be without a companion in the afterlife.
There is more here, and for the pointer I thank Michael Rosenwald.