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Taizhou waterway bureau chief Kong Yuan was listed as one of the city’s leading cadres on Friday, but his early career start drew attention. Photo: Weibo

Chinese officials in a spin over acrobat cadre who started working at 13

  • Taizhou staffing department says waterway bureau chief Kong Yuan joined an acrobatic troupe as a teen – and wasn’t an underage worker – after detail in his online bio gets noticed

Officials in eastern China had to clarify that a local cadre joined an acrobatic troupe when he was 13 – and was not an underage worker – after his online bio listed his first job at that age.

Kong Yuan, head of the waterway bureau in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, was named on Friday as one of 16 leading cadres by the city’s staffing department for the ruling Communist Party.

But eagle-eyed observers quickly noticed an unusually young age listed on his résumé.

His bio, which states he was born in January 1963, said he began working in October 1976, when he would have been just 13 years old.

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Kong, who is also a deputy-level cadre, was initially defensive about his early career start, telling reporters from news site that no one had raised questions about his background before.

“My résumé has no problems and can withstand scrutiny,” he said, before hanging up the phone.

But officials from the local Organisation Department, in charge of party staffing, were more willing to talk about Kong’s background, saying he had joined the local acrobatic troupe as a teenager.

Zhao Dan, deputy director of the department’s audio-visual centre, said the facts of Kong’s career path were clear and in line with relevant regulations, reported.

In China, cultural and athletic departments can hire individuals aged under 16 with approval from the authorities. Photo: Alamy

Cultural and athletic departments can legally hire individuals under the age of 16 with approval from authorities at least at the county level, as long as detailed paperwork is filed and the employment process is reasonable.

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Zhao also clarified concerns over another local cadre, Li Chunyan, who was listed as working from 16 years old. Li graduated when he was 16, since the schools he attended were not strict about age, and began primary school when he was five.

Online commenters delighted over the clarifications, especially the unusual detail of a party member with a background in acrobatics.

“Do you need to know acrobatics to work for the government now?” one user cheekily asked on popular microblogging platform Sina Weibo.

Others joked that as students, they could also be seen as underage workers.

“Does going to school count as employment? If so, I was five when I started working,” one said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Clarification over cadre’s career start – at age 13