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Being a Chinese Government Official is One of the Worst Jobs in the World

Image via Aleksandar Mijatovic/

Life as a Chinese government official isn’t what it used to be. Lavish, liquor-heavy banquets have been outlawed. It will soon be harder to get those handy military license plates, useful for avoiding hassle from traffic police. And these days, with China’s army of voracious and ever-watchful bloggers, every inappropriate smile, public temper tantrum, or luxury watch collection soon gets seen by the entire country.

Zhang Aihua, head of an industrial zone in Jiangsu Province threw a lavish banquet on April 19 that was broken up. He knelt on a dining table and publicly apologized. Photos and video soon went viral, and he was later dismissed from his post.

The plight of the Chinese official isn’t an issue many rally behind. The thousands of men and women who help run the country in posts ranging from head of an industrial park to a minister, are vilified by the public for their wealthelite connections, and privileged treatment. Officials are more often than not seen as part of China’s problems with government corruption and negligence.

And yet, it’s not easy being red and feeding from the iron rice bowl. Chinese officials, like political dissidents or regular citizens, also suffer under a party that is accountable chiefly to itself and a government that arbitrarily enforces laws.

In the last two weeks, two Chinese officials have mysteriously died after being detained by authorities under the party’s internal discipline system, shuanggui. The family of Jia Jiuxiang, vice president of a court in Henan province, said Jia turned up badly bruised at a local hospital after being detained for 11 days. He died on the morning of April 25.

A week ago, a Chinese official by the name of Yu Qiyi died after arriving in a local hospital in Zhejiang province beaten, with blood coming out of his nose and ears. Chinese state media said Yu had “suffered an accident” while being questioned by party discipline officials. In both cases, reports said the officials were being investigated for corruption, but no more details were given.

Read more at Quartz.

Lily Kuo is a reporter at Quartz covering emerging markets. She previously reported general news for Reuters. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and the China Post in Taiwan. She holds a dual master’s degree in international affairs from Peking University and the London School of Economics. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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