By Michael Evans
The Liaoning provincial government has sparked nationwide outrage after it was revealed that an official promoted to vice mayor allegedly scored the lowest of all candidates in the civil service exam.
Dubbed the “post-80’s vice mayor” by the media, 31 year old Dong Haitao was appointed vice mayor of Donggang in October 2012. Online rumours this month claimed that Dong had scored last in a written exam required for candidates seeking her current position, leading many to question her qualifications, the South China Morning Post reports.
Dong, netizens claimed, was too young and inexperienced to have earned the position legitimately and pointed to the average age of 50 for deputy-level cadres at her position.
Speculation also arose as to whether “family connections” had helped Dong get promoted to the high-ranking post from her original position as a non-party affiliated director at Liaodong’s Foreign Affairs Office.
Commentators in the media have joined the online doubters, using the case to call for greater transparency in the selection of officials. However the People’s Daily came to Dong’s aid in an article Tuesday, revealing exam records to show that she had not in fact placed lowest among the candidates (though her score of 101 points was far from the top of the list), and that the written exam was only the first step in a long and complex selection process.