Chinese official suspended for forcing man to apologise after he told anti-poverty inspectors he was not getting his benefits

Township chief was filmed making local resident recant after he told higher-level authorities he was not getting money he was entitled to receive

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 3:23pm

A township chief in southwestern China has been suspended from his post for forcing a 60-year-old man to apologise after he told officials he was not receiving his low-income benefits, state media has reported.

The man named Li Zelong from Dachang town in Chongqing was entitled to receive 392 yuan (US$59) per month in allowances for living below China’s poverty line, news website reported, citing a county government spokesman.

Last month inspectors from Wushan county visited Dachang to investigate its anti-poverty work and tried to check that locals were receiving all the money to which they were entitled.

When questioned by the officials, Li told them he was not receiving the money, the spokesman said on Saturday.

China’s list of poorest counties shrinks for the first time in 30 years

Township officials later made a video that was shared on social media in which Li was forced to retract his statement.

In the footage several men were heard scolding Li and questioning why he had given officials incorrect information.

“You obviously have the allowance … why did you say this nonsense?” a younger man asked.

“It was nonsense, it was nonsense,” Li replied. “I got it wrong.”

Then the younger man, later identified as Dachang township chief Chen Yong, was seen pressing Li’s head and making him bow three times.

Chen has been suspended from his job and will be investigated for discipline violations, local government media announced on Sunday.

The Wushan spokesman said an investigation team found Chen had treated Li with “rude words and behaviour”, which hurt the image of Chinese officials.

The country’s leadership led by President Xi Jinping has pledged to eradicate poverty in the country by 2020, which means local officials are under pressure to hit targets in their own areas.

Corrupt officials holding back China’s drive to eliminate poverty

However, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog has warned that the effort is being hampered by corrupt officials who have been siphoning off funds for their own use.

In August the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) highlighted numerous examples of village officials who were misusing poverty-alleviation funds coming from higher offices.

Regular inspections are carried out of lower levels officials in an attempt to eradicate the problem.