Haunted by media attention after local officials were challenged to swim in polluted rivers, Wenzhou authorities fought back with a 140,000 yuan advertisement campaign boasting of their environmental protection record, Beijing Times  reported on Thursday.
The city’s Wenzhou Evening News on Tuesday published a full-page coloured advertisement titled "Review of Wenzhou Environmental Bureau’s Achievement in 2012". The advertisement cost about 140,000 yuan (HK$173,000) according to the paper’s 2012 price list, the Beijing Times said.
The advertisement said the city government had boosted efforts on cleaning up pollution and ecological restoration, and had continually worked to improve water quality in Wenzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province.
It also said that the city had been named a "national role model" in environmental protection and that it would strive to retake that crown in 2014.
"We strive to meet people's goals, we aim to address people's concerns, we work together to make it happen," reads a slogan in the ad.
The ad came after local residents  of towns in Wenzhou challenged environmental protection officials to swim in polluted rivers for huge cash rewards , highlighting public concern over the city’s worsening environment plight.
Many internet users assumed the advertisement was a government response to public complains. Online comments overwhelmingly called the Wenzhou government shameless.
One blogger said: “Obviously the officials wanted to hide their misdeeds by boasting about achievements.”
Some netizens also demanded that government explain where the 140,000 yuan came from to pay for the advertisement, suspecting officials were spending taxpayers’ money to make themselves look good.
“Isn’t it better off spending the money on treating pollution?” one commenter asked.