Nepotism puts system for promotions in spotlight

Guidelines governing the appointment of party officials are too general, says Xinhua, leading to adoption of so-called 'hidden rules'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 4:35am

A dragon begets a dragon, a phoenix begets a phoenix and the son of a mouse is good at digging holes, goes the Chinese idiom.

Sadly, however, a culture of nepotism in the promotion of young officials has caused overwhelming public disgust.

The most recent case was that of 30-year-old Yuan Huizhong, the daughter of a former secretary of the Communist Party political and legal affairs commission in Yangzhou , whose appointment as deputy secretary of Yangzhou's Communist Youth League in February was exposed by a microblogger.

According to the city government's website, Yuan received a PhD from Nanjing University three years ago.

She then worked as assistant to the head of Xihu township before being made deputy secretary of the Weiyang district Communist Youth League committee in Yangzhou and head of Chengbei township.

The media quoted an expert as saying it usually took at least nine years for a township cadre to be promoted to her level. Even though an official from the city's party organisation committee, responsible for party personnel matters, said that Yuan had earned the job fairly, and that her father had exerted no influence on the selection process, the phenomenon still provoked wide discussion.

Xinhua said the rules on promoting party officials were too general when it came to avoiding conflicts of interest and left room for the application of "hidden rules", inevitably provoking public challenges.

It was normal to promote officials, even when the promotion did not follow the usual pattern, Xinhua said, but what was not normal was the tendency to make it a "hereditary system".

The many cases exposed showed that some officials had taken advantage of their power and resources to not only provide their children better educational opportunities but also to put them on a fast track to promotion as officials, it said.

Chang Junsheng, 22-year-old deputy secretary of China Communist Youth League's Wangjiang county committee in Anhui province, was sacked just over a week ago after the qualifications he presented in an open selection of officials were found to have been falsified. His father is the official in charge of promotions in the county.

Xu Tao, nominated as deputy secretary of Xiangtan county in Hunan in December at the age of 27, was removed from the post on May 7 after microbloggers raised questions about his five years of work experience. His father had been chairman of the local people's congress and his mother was deputy director of the district's procuratorate.

"The rocket-speed promotion of officials' children not only exposes the corruption of the officials involved or ruins their reputations, but also demonstrates serious flaws in the personnel policy applying to cadres," the Yangcheng Evening Post said.

Xinhua said: "The relevant mechanism must be designed scientifically and with more details to avoid corruption and highlight fairness." The Shanghai Morning Post said even though Yuan's father had withdrawn from the decision making process, his political influence could not be avoided.

The cases showed the need for the regulation on avoiding conflicts of interest to elaborate on the scope of influence and specify in which areas political influence would be excused, the newspaper said.

But a system based totally on avoiding conflicts of interest was not the solution, the newspaper argued, because that would be biased against the children of officials who were competent.

"The fundamental solution to having the promotion of officials' children withstand the test of questioning is an improved promotion mechanism, which leaves out any possibility for under-the-table dealing through transparent procedures," it said.