A former director of the Census and Statistics Department has been appointed to improve the quality of the mainland's data - the first paid appointment of a former Hong Kong government official to a job over the border. The mainland's Statistics Bureau announced yesterday that it had hired Frederick Ho Wing-huen as a consultant for three years in what observers believe will be the start of a trend by Beijing to bring its practices into line with international standards after joining the World Trade Organisation. The appointment comes less than a month after Xie Fuzhan took over the bureau from his corruption-tainted predecessor. 'The central government has pledged to improve China's data statistics, to set up a regime which is suitable for the country and meets international standards,' the bureau quoted Mr Xie as saying. He said Mr Ho's professional experience would bring international statistics measures and practices to the bureau. Mr Xie replaced Qiu Xiaohua , who was sacked after he was implicated in a pension fund scandal in Shanghai. Mr Ho, 60, retired last year and has since been working as a part-time lecturer at Chinese University. It is the first time the central government has given a paid job to a former Hong Kong official. Former secretary for trade and commerce Chau Tak-hay was appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation in 2002 as an unpaid consultant for World Trade Organisation affairs. Ma Ngok, a political analyst at Chinese University, predicted it would be a trend. 'Since China joined the WTO, it needs more expertise to enhance its system to meet the international standard as soon as possible,' he said.