Shenyang man impersonated official, thinking he could do a better job

Zhao Xiyong impersonated an official because he felt he could do a better job than the real one

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 4:38am

It took Zhao Xiyong, a 58-year-old Shenyang native, three years to rise from being a nobody to a vice-ministerial-level civil servant.

He inspected six provinces, held countless meetings and gave speeches, but it was all a sham. Last month, Zhao was arrested for impersonating a national official.

On Wednesday, his lawyer said Zhao would plead not guilty to charges of fraud, because he claimed his client had not profited financially. He said Zhao just thought he could do a better job than the real officials.

In 2004, Zhao unsuccessfully applied for a position with the highest executive organ, the State Council.

He then returned to work in his family's business in Liaoning until 2009, when, at a local meeting, he was mistaken for a State Council researcher, his lawyer Kuang Jimei told the Dongfang Daily. "At this point, he realised the kind of influence such a position could give him," Kuang said.

In 2010, he left his home province for Loudi in Hunan . Impersonating a State Council researcher, the local government made him a member of an "expert consultation and deliberation committee for major administrative decisions", the Changjiang Evening News reported.

"It's such a pity to see such a talented person not taking the right path," a local official told the daily in reaction to Zhao's arrest. His wife told the paper they had enough money and that his actions did not bring any financial benefit to the family.

After two years in Loudi, he promoted himself to the position of a department head within the State Council Research Office. By that time, he had been hired as a consultant for a Kunming based car-parts manufacturer.

He toured Yunnan as a "vice-ministerial inspector". At every stop, his visit was welcomed by county leaders anxious to impress the central government and they briefed him on development projects.

In Yuxi , south of Kunming, the vice-mayor showed him around the construction site of a "national defence" theme park. Wearing a Western suit and a construction site hard hat, he praised the construction company for its contribution to education in national defence, according to a profile in the Southern Metropolis Weekly.

Early last month, the State Council Research Office, the central government's most influential think tank, sent a letter to the Yunnan provincial government saying: "We have recently seen online that since the beginning of last year a man called Zhao Xiyong has pretended to be a department head at the State Council Research Office … he has inspected Kunming, Yuxi, Yingjiang , Tonghai and other places and given speeches. We solemnly declare there is no Zhao Xiyong in our work unit, and that we have not organised any so-called delegation of experts to visit Yunnan."

By March 19, Kunming police had issued an arrest warrant for Zhao. Three days later, he was arrested in his home province, Liaoning, and charged with fraud and impersonating a state official for personal benefit. If convicted, he will face a prison sentence of between three and 10 years.

Zhao's is not the first publicised case of a person impersonating an official. In 1995, Liu Heping, after forging a background in the People's Liberation Army in his personal file, became the deputy party secretary of Liuzhou in northern Guangxi . His deceit was uncovered a year later when local officials praised his work to the central government. Many other impersonators have since followed.