Catering guru Zhang quits post as adviser over foreign passport

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 4:41am

Mainland restaurateur Zhang Lan has submitted her resignation as a political adviser to Beijing's Chaoyang district after reports that she had obtained a foreign passport sparked renewed public fury over the rising number of wealthy emigrants.

The Chaoyang District People's Political Consultative Conference received a written application from Zhang on Monday that expressed her desire to resign as a member because of her change of nationality, the district government said on its microblog.

It said the district's political advisory body had confirmed that Zhang had nullified her Chinese citizenship on September 17 and that it was handling her resignation "according to procedures". It is not known which nationality Zhang now holds.

Although the constitution does not say that a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference must be a Chinese citizen, the body's spokesman, Zhao Qizheng, said at its annual session in March that those who held foreign passports could not be members. He was responding to a rumour that some delegates had changed their nationalities.

Zhang, the founder and chairwoman of South Beauty Group, a chain of upmarket Sichuanese restaurants, came under fire after her change of nationality was exposed last week when she was subpoenaed in a civil lawsuit filed by a man claiming to be one of her company's founders. Many see her as another example of mainlanders fleeing abroad after getting rich.

She has reiterated on many occasions that she turned down a chance to obtain Canadian citizenship 21 years ago, after living there for two years. Zhang opted instead to return to Beijing to open a restaurant, which later grew to become the South Beauty Group.