Liu Xiang's new job sparks online buzz
Star athlete Liu Xiang's appointment as a Shanghai party official has sparked controversy online, with some users questioning whether he is fit for the post and others curious about what his job entails.
News of Liu's appointment - made months ago - as vice-secretary of the Shanghai Sports Bureau's Communist Youth League broke on Thursday after the former Olympic 110-metres hurdles champion posted on his microblog pictures of his office and published a statement in support of the city's athletes.
Many internet users reacted with scepticism, saying the appointment was 'laughable' and the job superfluous. Several people expressed doubt about Liu's competency since he had been absent twice from the annual plenum of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Others feared that Liu's party duties could hinder his preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
However, sports bureau director Li Yu said placing renowned athletes in top Youth League positions was 'part of its tradition of accepting outstanding young talent'.
The director said Liu and another Shanghai-based athlete, Liu Zige , became vice-secretaries of the committee in June. But Li said both players were not strictly officials because they were not included in the civil service headcount and had no regular office hours.
On Thursday morning, Liu posted a photo of his name plate, writing, 'I am at work! This is my new office.' Two hours later, he added a picture of his work lunch, a plate of macaroni.
Liu also said on his microblog that he had drafted a resolution encouraging athletes ahead of the mainland's National Games next year. Additional reporting by Mandy Zuo