Controversy is being stirred up in Liaoning province, after the young, recently-appointed female vice-mayor of Donggang was found to have scored the lowest among 25 candidates in a selections test.
Dong Haitao, 32, was slammed across the internet earlier this month after rumours spread that she had only scored 101 points on her written test. The average score was 108 and the top candidate scored 117 points.
Dong, netizens claimed, was too young and inexperienced to have earned the position legitimately and pointed to the average age of 50 for deputy-level cadres at her position.
Speculation also arose as to whether “family connections” had helped Dong get promoted to the high-ranking post from her original position as a non-party affiliated director at Liaodong’s Foreign Affairs Office.
An uncle of Dong’s husband, Liu Mingchu, had previously worked at numerous government offices including the Dandong City Department of Transportation, the Liaoning Transportation Department and Department of Water Resources.
Dandong authorities acknowledged Liu and Dong’s connection but have denied any link between their relationship and her recent appointment.
“Lies written in ink cannot conceal the truth!” wrote one user on microblogging site Sina Weibo.
When contacted by the People’s Daily newspaper on Monday, the Dandong Muncipal Committee’s Organisation Department said Dong “had met and complied with all standard selection procedures”.
This view was echoed by some netizens.
“There is a possibility that she did meet all the recruitment requirements … the weight of written test scores are insignificant in these cases,” said one.
Since becoming Donggang's vice-mayor last October, Chinese media has branded Dong the “pretty, non-party affiliated vice-mayor from the post-1980s generation”.