Hunan official's 'meteoric rise' to the top cut short as he's forced to resign

Young deputy county head's parents were officials, it has emerged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Xiangtan in Hunan is known as the place where Mao Zedong spent his childhood. It also happens to be Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's ancestral home.

But when Chinese newspapers mentioned the famous Hunan tourist destination over the last two months, their reports focused on the county's 27-year-old deputy head Xu Tao.

On Wednesday, paunchy Xu was dismissed from his job over allegations of nepotism. His sacking comes less than 50 days after a Hunan provincial government website questioned his credentials in an article that turned him into a national media sensation.

It followed up rumours first spread on microblogs. Netizens has speculated how Xu could, at his age, already be second in charge of a county with a million inhabitants and also be pursuing a full-time master's programme.

Communist Party regulations on the promotion of officials require at least five years work experience and two years grassroots experience for the job.

In later reports, it emerged that his father and mother had both been local officials.

By March 24, the country's most eminent newspaper, People's Daily, reported that a committee has been set up to investigate the circumstances of Xu's promotion.

In April, Xu was expelled from Xiangtan University and local party officials were "scolded" for their involvement in his promotion.

A group of officials were treating the county as their personal fiefdom, Southern Weekly reported

On Tuesday, Lu Qun, an anti-corruption official with the Hunan provincial government in Changsha, said in a microblog post that Xu had voluntarily resigned.

"Xu is also a victim," Lu wrote. "I hope this is a lesson for the relevant departments to make their personnel management more transparent."

"Let's hope that from now on [Xu Tao] will be an example for similar cases," Yang Tao, a legal commentator, concluded in the Beijing News.

A similar case is that of Deng Zhuodi, a 28-year-old grandson of Deng Xiaoping. As news emerged that Deng also is a deputy county head, cynical remarks on microblogs did not lead to similar newspaper exposés.

Instead, the young Deng was praised for his "erudite knowledge and outstanding ability".