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China's youngest mayor questioned

The youngest mayor in China is now believed to be Zhou Senfeng (周森峰).

The newly elected mayor is only 29 years old. His resume shows the rapid promotion he got in the past 5 years. Right after he graduated from Qinghua University, one of the best colleges in China, he was appointed to be the deputy director of the Construction Committee in Xiangfan, a city in Hubei province. A position many people can only dream of in their thirties, it started Zhou's rocketing promotion, that finally leads him to be the mayor of YiCheng (宜城).

This time, the People's Congress of Yicheng unanimously voted him the mayor, which is another shocking fact. A member in the congress said it was unprecedented. His mysterious promotion, therefore, has become the topic of the heated debate on the internet.

A denial of interview and public concern

A broadcast scription reads:

周森锋成为湖北乃至全中国最年轻市长的消息传开后,各路媒体纷纷要求采访这名政坛新星,但都遭中共宜城市委宣传部拒绝。宜城市委宣传部负责人声称,周森锋比较务实、低调,不希望媒体过多地宣传、炒作。该市组织部门一名工作人员说,相关领导已明确指示,任何人不得私自接受采访。

After Zhou was promoted to be the youngest mayor in China, medias floods in to request interviews with the new political star. But all the requests were denied by the Publicity Department in Yicheng. The head of the department said Zhou is quite down-to-earth and low-profile, and doesn't want too much public attention. A staff told that the officals have ordered that no one should take interviews without approval.

Meanwhile, none of Zhou's colleagues has given any information about the young mayor in his previous posts.

A short path to power
Three years after graduation, Zhou has been promoted to be the vice bureau chief, which is the second position he took. In the following two years, he was promoted for totally 5 times.

An editorial cited by the official media, People's Daily, posed a question on Zhou's rapid promotion. The writer questioned whether the quick promotion violates the CCP regualtions about the procedure of cadre promotion.

Zhou Pengan, the blogger, writes:

再来看看中共中央关于《党政领导干部选拔任用条例》相关条款的规定。《党政领导干部选拔任用条例》第七条第一款规定, 提任县(处)级领导职务的,应当具有五年以上工龄和两年以上基层工作经历。

Let's check the relative provisions in ‘Regulations on promotion and appointment of CCP cadres’. The 7th term says that, in order to be a division chief, the candidate must have five years’ standing on service and more than two years’ experience in grass-root level.

周森锋的简历告诉我们,他2004年7月参加工作,其工龄还不满5年并且缺乏两年以上基层工作经历

His resume told us, however, since he joined the workforce in July 2004, he has not yet served for 5 years and he lacks the two-year grassroots experience.

Justice-Blade echoed the question on China.com:

我相信在科学界,在艺术界,在文化界有天才,但在成熟的政治领域不可能有。

I believe there are talents among scientists, artiest and scholars. But in a mature political system, there is none.

Questioning whether Zhou has special family background that brings him to the position, netizens launched Flesh Search Engine in an attempt to find out the truth. Typing in Zhou Senfeng in Baidu, relative terms such as Zhou Senfeng's father, Zhou Senfeng's wife immediately show up, which indicates that millions of people have already tried to find out about his family.

Zhou's father was the first focus. ‘Who is Zhou's father’ became a question frequently seen on the internet. Netizens soon discovered a “suspect”. On around 23, June, the name Zhou Gengyan floated on the internet. According to his public resume, Zhou Gengyan is now the CCP's first secretary of YuZhou, head of the city.

However, official media across the country soon published a story about Zhou's family, claiming that his father is actually a normal worker and his mother a farmer.

The report said:

记者又询问了很多人后,终于找到了周森锋在神垕镇上开摄影店的三姨妈。“我们已经从网上看到了森锋当选宜城市市长的消息了,这孩子越来越有出息了。”周森锋的三姨妈高兴地说,“其实,我们森锋也是贫苦人家的孩子。”

The journalist has talked with many people before he could find Zhou's aunt in the town who runs a photograph shop. ‘We have seen the news that SenFeng was elected mayor on the internet. The boy gets so promising a future.’ his aunt said with delight, ‘Actually he is also from a poor family.’

The report, furthermore, depicted Zhou's home as the worst in the town. His father was said to be working in a porcelain plant for living. Moreover, there are netizens questioning that, if Zhou's father is now only the head of a city, he has no way to promote his son to the same level so quickly.

The contradicting versions about Zhou's family lead netizens to question about Zhou's wife. She was first exposed to be the deputy director of the city congress. But again, she was found to be only the head of a subcomittee. Zhou's father-in-law, who is said to be unemployed now has nothing special as well.

Umbrella and research paper
The official statement told that ‘his appointment coincided with the government's campaign to foster more young cadres.’ He just took well of the chance and earned his own way in the political sphere.

However, it is not too convincing a statement. In China, it is unbelievable that a person without network can rise up so quickly. It is the belief of the most that there must be something going under the table. Driven by the questions, suspicion and distrust, netizens keep on their fight for truth.

Zhou is now facing the attention from across the country. In Baidu.com, a special post-zone(贴吧)was set for people to discuss about the youthful mayor. More facts about his have been dug out.

Blogger Zhao Dahua said in his post ‘Zhou, can't you hold the umbrella yourself?':

谢疏而不漏的恢恢网络,29岁的研究生周森锋“当选”为中国最年轻市长的消息刚一传开,人们就找到了他今年早些时候下乡视察时由他人打伞的照片。当时,人不多,雨不大,周常委兼常务副市长背着双手,挺着肚子,在他人打着的雨伞下,悠然自得地扫视着瓜地。同时,人们还找到了好几张温家宝、布什、普京等大人物在雨中亲自打伞的照片。比较着这些照片,人们对周市长的架子看着很不爽。

Thanks to the internet, as soon sa the news about Zhou spreads across, people found pictures showing his attendants holding an umbrella for him. The rain was not at all heavy and there were only a few people. Zhou stood there with his hands on the back, watching the field under the umbrella held by his subordinate. People compare the picture with those of Premier Wen, Bush, and Putin who held umbrella themselves in the rain. People were upset to see Zhou's haughty manner.

Moreover, people discovered that one of Zhou's postgraduate papers plagiarized the paper of another scholar. The paper is about real estate studies, which is the major research topic of Zhou's post-graduate study. 木有下文 writes in his post which is widely cited on the internet:

于是我在半信半疑中下载了这两篇文章,对照后发现,其中竟然有好几段几乎一模一样,还有不少段落是修改了几个字,基本意思一样。而且周市长也没有注明“引用”的脚注。通篇看来,我认为不只50%的抄袭

So I downloaded the two papers with doubt. By comparison, I found that quite a few paragraphs are exactly the same, and some paragraphs have only a few words in difference, while with the same argument. Zhou gives no citation either. Thoroughly, I think it plagiarizes the other for more than 50%.

The blogger then cited the similar paragraphs in the two papers. Qinghua University has started checking the paper but not yet given any response.

Unlucky Man?
Zhou, as the youngest mayor, is thought to be by some people just an unlucky person. It should have been exciting to hear young men promoted to the leadership. In response to such comments on the internet, Blogger Chenyunx replied in his post ‘Why do we have to question about Mayor Zhou.’

襄樊市引进硕士博士,是好事情。但是当年引进硕士博士一共多少位?其他人才引进之后是不是一开始就这么重用?周市长一开始就能成为建委副主任,是否经过公开的招考,是否经过审慎的考察?周市长一系列的工作变动,有没有经过正常的程序。一系列工作变动之后,周市长最终成为了一市之长,有没有相应证明他能够胜任这个岗位的证据?有没有工作业绩的支撑?这些东西,是我们必须疑问的。因为,作为一市之长,不是随便去找一个打工仔完成一项工作。他的一个决策的失败,影响的是宜城几十万老百姓的生活。这样一个人物,怎么能够不谨慎。

It is good for the city to introduce in young people with master and even doctor degree. But how many people were introduced in? How many people were promoted? Has there been any public examination and cautious assessment before Zhou was appointed to be the chief director of the Construction Committee? Was there any procedure for Zhou to be promoted? Is there any evidence to prove that Zhou is capable for the position of mayor? Any past achievements? We have to ask about it. His career and policies would affect thousands of people in Yicheng. How can't we be cautious?

对于强势的官员们,需要的是制衡他们的力量,否则,没有制约的权力带来的只有苦涩的恶果。我们需要的不是盲从,不是盲目支持,而是用带着怀疑和警惕的眼光注视那些强大的官员们,让他们在诱惑面前多一些警醒,让他们感受到做错事之后会受到惩罚,这样,他们才能够如履薄冰,兢兢业业的做好他的工作。

We need check and balance on those powerful and aggresive officials. Otherwise, power without constrain only makes bitter fruits. We need no blind support and trust. We need to be alerted and suspicious of those powerful cadres. We need to alert them and let them feel that if they did anything wrong they would be punished. So they will be more cautious and do their job better.

如果面对网民的一点点质疑周市长们都通不过,那么这样的人有什么资格掌管几十万人民的前途?

If he can't even face the questions of netizens, what qualifies him to administrate the thousands of people?

中国民主的进程注定要从网上监督开始,因此,让质疑来的更猛烈一些吧。

The democracy of China is destined to start online. So, let more questions come!

2 comments

  • Wahaha,

    You are an activisit for democracy, please explain the following questions :

    1) Why in democratic and developing countries, people who lived in slums 10, 20 years ago are stilling living in slums ?

    2) Why do people in \free world\ protest for using the money of their children and grandchildren ?

    3) Does it sound right to you that in \free world\ there has been no conflict between ordinary people and the rich who benefit most from the the system ?

    • phli

      regrettably, democracy is no guarantee of equality, but unchecked authority almost certainly fosters corruption and abuse.

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