The head of a district industry and commerce bureau in Shenyang in Liaoning has been suspended from his post amid an investigation after he stormed into a newspaper's newsroom on June 9 to protest at negative media reports about his son's bakery, the People's Daily's website reported.
Yang Xiaosong, head of the Shenhe district industry and commerce watchdog, called for 'duels' with the two reporters at the Liaoshen Evening News who exposed that zongzi (rice dumplings) sold at a bakery chain, Bread Talk, were mouldy. The bakery is registered under his son's name.
Bai Dongsheng, the discipline chief at Shenyang's Industry and Commerce Administration, told the website that a team had been formed to investigate the allegations against Yang raised by the media.
On June 8, when the report about the mouldy zongzi was published, Yang's wife went to the newsroom and cursed loudly.
The next day, she returned with a gang and ended up fighting with two reporters who happened to be there. Yang was called and arrived with more people. His demands for duels with the two reporters involved were posted online by other reporters as the confrontation was taking place.
An online post on June 9 said the bakery was registered in 2008 under the name of Yang's son, Yang Jiwei, with a one-off investment of at least five million yuan (HK$6 million).
As a civil servant, Yang's annual salary is less than 100,000 yuan. The post was soon picked up by national media, including Xinhua.
Yang's inappropriate behaviour has been a topical issue online over the past week. Internet users accused him of abuse of power in order to maximise his profits.
'He was investigated only after media exposed his behaviour. There must be so many similar cases that the media dare not report,' said one internet user on Sina Weibo, the mainland's version of Twitter.
'If he was not so arrogant, he would have been fine.'
He has tried to stifle media coverage of his behaviour, and no media in the province have reported on it.
A spokesman for the industry administration said no details of how the investigation was progressing could be released yet but promised they would reveal it to the media as soon as they were ready.
The Liaoshen Evening News is a daily newspaper under the Liaoning Daily, the Communist Party's provincial mouthpiece.