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The busiest local official in China? Vice-mayor of Xuzhou Wang Jianfeng holds 46 positions heading up policy bodies

  • Wang Jianfeng is the vice-mayor of Xuzhou, a city of 8 million. But he also leads 46 steering groups and task forces – and doesn’t get paid any extra for it
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 January, 2019, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2019, 11:53am

The workload of a local cadre in eastern China has come under scrutiny with the revelation that as well as being the vice-mayor of Xuzhou – a city of 8 million in Jiangsu – he also leads more than 40 wide-ranging steering groups and task forces.

And 51-year-old Wang Jianfeng does not get paid any extra for the additional jobs, according to the city government.

On top of his vice-mayor duties, Wang holds 46 positions heading up policy bodies in areas ranging from state-owned enterprise reforms to migrant worker affairs, district redevelopments and climate change.

His busy work schedule was revealed in a document posted on the Xuzhou government website in October that was widely shared on social media over the weekend.

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While internet users have questioned how the vice-mayor could possibly handle so many different jobs, state media also weighed in, saying Wang’s situation highlighted the heavy workload and inefficiencies of local governments in China.

All of the “policy deliberation and coordination groups” headed by Wang are set up under the city government to coordinate administrative departments in particular areas.

According to the government document, Wang is also responsible for groups covering policy areas that include pension fund contributions, industrial overcapacity, tax collection, food safety and innovation.

A commentary in Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Sunday said it was too much.

“To be immersed in all kinds of routine work harms a cadre’s energy for making innovative reforms and affects his personal life as well,” the commentary read.

Ren Jianming, a professor of public management at Beihang University in Beijing, said it was common for top officials in local government to lead various policy and coordination groups, but Wang might be one of the busiest.

“This phenomenon is rooted in the fact that the heads of different administrative bodies under local governments don’t do their duty – so when it comes to matters of special importance, the government needs someone to take the lead and push for concrete action,” Ren said.

“But in the long term, it’s impossible for one man to take responsibility for so many issues. Ultimately the efficiency only gets lower and lower,” he added.

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Responding to questions raised over whether Wang can juggle so many jobs – and whether he gets paid for the extra titles – the Xuzhou government on Saturday said all the groups he led were temporary and there was no extra budget or staff for them.

It added that setting up new steering groups and task forces would be more tightly controlled in the future.

“As part of this round of institutional reform, the municipal government has started streamlining deliberation and coordination bodies and will strictly control the establishment of new ones,” the government said in a statement on microblogging site Weibo.

Beijing has been working to streamline government bodies for a decade, and President Xi Jinping has vowed to fight bureaucracy along with his sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

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