A Chinese city boss has been sacked after slapping a subordinate in the face in public, according to state media.
Zhang Zhanwei, the Communist Party chief of Jiyuan city in Henan province, was fired on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
The report did not say why Zhang was dismissed but it said Shang Xiaojuan, wife of Zhai Weidong, the secretary general of Jiyuan city government, filed a complaint last Saturday in which she said Zhang publicly humiliated her husband by slapping him in the face last November. Two days later Zhai had a heart attack, which his wife blamed on the assault.
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The incident has echoes of a notorious case seven years ago when the now disgraced Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai slapped his right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, in an argument.
Bo is serving a life sentence for corruption while Wang, who unsuccessfully sought shelter at the US consulate in Chengdu, was jailed for 15 years for defection and taking bribes.
In his trial, Bo revealed that he slapped Wang in the face because he questioned his loyalty.
In her complaint, which has since been widely circulated on China’s social media platforms, Shang gave a detailed account of how Zhang expelled her husband from a canteen reserved for senior officials.
“Who do you think you are? Who let you in here?” Zhang questioned Zhai when he tried to explain his presence.
“You think you are a vice-mayor? A leader? In what capacity do you think you can dine here?” he asked before he ordered Zhai’s expulsion.
Two days later, Zhai suffered a heart attack and spent over a month in hospital.
According to Shang, Zhang not only showed little care about her husband’s condition and continued to criticise his “insubordination”.
“As Zhai Weidong’s wife, I felt pained and was deeply hurt,” Shang wrote in her complaint letter. “Today, I make my complaint public because I want justice for my husband.”
Attempts to contact Shang for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.
Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University in eastern China, suggested that Zhang may have held a grudge against his subordinate, “but it is not right to slap a person and certainly not allowed under party discipline”.
China’s social media platforms have been inundated with comments since Shang’s complaint was published online with many netizens saying the incident reflected the arrogance of those in power.
“The punishment is too light. Now people with just a little power behave arrogantly,” one netizen wrote on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
Xinhua also responded to the commentary saying the widespread interest in the incident showed how the public rejected leaders’ arrogance and rude behaviour.
Gu said cliques were prevalent in China’s political culture and officials with a common background bonded together to strengthen their influence and power.
“There are different kinds of relationships – relatives, friends, former classmates or comrades who fought together in the army, and that makes banning such a culture very difficult,” he said.
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