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'Rocket Promotions' lift next-gen Mandarins

The Chinese internet’s “human flesh searches” intended to name and shame misbehaving officials have developed a new wrinkle.
Netizens are studying young officials’ faces for family resemblances that may explain how they got promoted to plum positions so quickly.
In a recent case, netizens noted 37-year-old Wu Lei shared certain facial features, as well as a surname, with former National People’s Congress chief Wu Bangguo (pictured).
The speculation was triggered by the news that the younger Wu had been tapped for deputy director of Shanghai’s Economic and Information Technology Commission.
Several major state mouthpieces, including People’s Daily Online, picked up the news of Wu’s promotion on 13 May. In a suspicious turn of events, the news was scrubbed from all online portals the next day.
Wu is hardly officialdom’s only wunderkind under scrutiny. Netizens are asking how 31-year-old Tong Haitao -- deputy mayor of Donggang city (Liaoning Province) in charge of education, public health, culture, and press – managed to escape censure for a recent hepatitis-C outbreak that left nearly 100 Donggang residents infected.
Tong is married to the nephew of the deputy director of the province’s Water Resources Department, according to online reports.
This year, China has seen at least three second-generation officials under 40 sacked after their parents allegedly helped them win promotions.
It is widely believed that officials who owe their success to nepotism are likely to be corrupt.
In 2001, a construction official in Jiangsu Province who was condemned to death for corruption crimes set down for his son a list of rules for success in officialdom. Among them: “No need to strictly comply with laws and regulations, be flexible,” “The purpose of being an official is to benefit,” and “Learn to handle personal relations before learning how to work; the latter is not important.”
An education official from Gansu Province recently told a reporter that securing a promotion was “60 percent” about finessing interpersonal relationships.

Sources: Sina (新浪网), Bloomberg, South China Morning Post


Benjamin Kessler is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. A version of this post appeared in the China Compliance Digest.