Promotion-gate of Officials’ Children

Another score for Internet users and the online press for prompting an apology, sort of, from a local government for cronyism in the promotion of four positions. Translated by CDT from the Beijing News and others.

It all started with a bulletin announcing promotions of four “cadres” at Benxi City in Liaoning Province for the city Communist Youth League’s secretary and deputy secretaries. Candidates and their short bios are as follows, briefly:

Sun Mingdi, born in May 1979. Started work in March 2005 and joined CCP in June 2006. MBA from an Australian university. Now deputy governor of Nanfen District government, to be promoted as secretary of city Communist Youth League branch. (The reporter noted that the university was founded in 1994 and is virtually unknown in academia.)

Li Haoran, a graduate of an on-the-job college program, now is deputy secretary of Jinshan neighborhood committee of Minshan District.

Gao Ting, born in August 1981, joined CCP in December 2006. Now director of foreign trade and economic cooperation of Minshan District, and deputy chief of investment attraction.

Judging by their ages and lack of experience, it’s an amazing achievement that they are going to assume important positions with some potential power and self-enriching opportunities.

A deeper look reveals that Sun Mingdi, for example, is the son of Benxi city’s trade union president. Gao Ting’s father is secretary of the city’s Party Discipline Inspection Committee. Li Haoran’s father is head of the city’s Department of United Front. Two of these parents are in the city’s politburo. No wonder that the announcement, posted on the city government’s official site on April 11, quickly triggered explosive anger over the Internet.

“Why can’t officials’ children become successful?” Sun Mingdi answered with frustration in an interview.

Someone who posted this announcement in a forum labeled these kids as “Benxi’s well-known princelings” and said they “will become department level officials (ju ji or fu ju ji) in a couple of years, standing on the shoulders of their powerful parents.” Although most of these posts have been deleted, the damage has been done and a wave of criticism poured the government’s way.

A couple of weeks later an official site of the city flashed with a bulletin saying that the promotions of the four people were invalid. The city party branch studied and decided that some were not qualified for the positions and that the deliberation process had violated certain rules of officials’ promotions, namely avoiding relatives of current officials or such things.

The story isn’t over yet. A Beijing News commentary called for a systematic reflection. It was indeed another victory for media supervision that Benxi officials admitted their wrongdoing in this scandal. But the pity was that the authorities didn’t apologize “sincerely.” Since Benxi was at fault in these promotions, and it had very bad social implications, shall we hold relevant officials accountable for this? The local government didn’t say a word about this.

Speaking of all the controversies surrounding official selections, including the recent “post-80 kids assuming high positions,” etc., we cannot just look at the Benxi scandal as an individual case, but have to look at it from the systematic perspective. Otherwise, cronyism in official promotions and black-box operations in personnel arrangements will be unchallenged and the system will remain unable to correct its flaws.

Another commentary, from RedNet, cautioned that the Benxi scandal is commonplace in many places, as the saying goes, “Being good at math, physics and chemistry is not as good as having a good dad.” A disguised form of hereditary officialdom, if becoming a social norm, will be the most horrible political cancer.