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Chinese Official Blows Public Funds on Gaming Addiction

"Chu" faces prison after spending millions of taxpayers' yuan on an online role-playing game.

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The game Chu couldn't stop playing.
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By Bryan Le

06/19/13

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An official in China faces 11 years in prison after he embezzled 2.6 million yuan ($424,247) in public funds to support his addiction to a role-playing video game. The local official, identified only as Chu, was responsible for allocating taxpayer money in the Neighborhood Cooperative Economic Administration Center in Nanjing City. But in 2005, he got hooked on a multiplayer online role playing game called Zhengtu, a Chinese game similar to the immensely popular and notoriously addictive World of Warcraft. After spending 10,000 yuan ($1,633 USD) on in-game equipment for his avatar and 100,000 yuan ($16,327 USD) on two Zhengtu premium accounts, he soon dried up his savings. Within the year, Chu began dipping into public funds to fly himself and fellow players to meet up or attend Zhengtu-related events across the globe. After five years, his wife left him due to his obsession. By 2012, Chu finally turned himself in after having blown through millions of yuan in taxpayer money and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. A blogger on Sina Weibo, a Chinese site similar to Twitter, says: “A neighborhood official can do this kind of messy thing for six years without being caught!” China has taken steps to curb its widespread problem of gaming addiction. Initiatives include campaigns launched earlier this year to diagnose the condition, and to intervene with kids' Internet use. 

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