Vice Minister Fu Zhenghua latest official to 'incidentally' run into positive media coverage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 2:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 5:24pm

Beijing's police chief has become the latest official accused of orchestrating a PR stunt by “incidentally” running into a journalist while diligently performing his duties.

Fu Zhenghua, the man President Xi Jinping tasked to head a special unit investigating the scandal surrounding retired leader Zhou Yongkang, was spotted patrolling Beijing’s streets on Wednesday evening by the Legal Evening News, a local newspaper.

The 58-year-old senior policeman was seen leading a uniformed armed patrol on the Wangfujing shopping street, according to a post on the newspaper’s Sina Weibo account. He was photographed and told the unnamed reporter that he would continue his patrol to Tiananmen Square, the newspaper said.

Many internet users were sceptical about the chance encounter, as coverage of senior officials is usually strictly choreographed. “Journalists, who will you 'incidentally run into' today?” rights lawyer Yuan Yulai asked in a weibo post, which has since been deleted. Searches for Fu Zhenghua have been blocked on the microblogging platform, which is China’s largest.

Fu is the second high-ranking official this week reported to have “incidentally run into” journalists who have then reported the diligence of the cadres in performing their duties.

On Monday, Wu Tianjun, party chief of the Henan provincial capital Zhengzhou, was filmed travelling on a metro train after he also “incidentally encountered” reporters from Zhengzhou Television, who then broadcast a 2.5-minute long report on its evening news programme. Following widespread ridicule, an unnamed official of Zhengzhou city committee spoke to the People’s Daily to confirm that the metro journey was indeed an impromptu one.

For Fu, such media appearances are nothing new. In October, he made what local media called an “unannounced inspection” of a police station while they were also present to report on the visit. In November, he was reported to have rushed to the scene of a tragic warehouse fire that left 12 people dead - an unusually hands-on approach for a senior official.

Fu is the first person in the party’s history to serve as vice minister of public security, be a member of the Standing Committee of the party’s Beijing municipal committee, and head Beijing’s armed police force. He gained prominence by his crackdown on elite nightclubs in 2010, which at the time was considered by many to be “career suicide”.