Opinion / Opinion Line

Official's e-shop for local produce: good example or breaking rules?

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-18 08:39

Official's e-shop for local produce: good example or breaking rules?

China's largest e-commerce marketplace, Taobao, is showing the way in a legal minefield. Provided to China Daily

TANG WENZHONG, Party chief of Dunhua, a city in Northeast China's Jilin province, recently opened an e-shop via a social media platform to sell agricultural products for a local State-owned enterprise, and he called for family members and subordinate Party chiefs to open branch shops for him. Tang claimed the profits would go to the SOE. This has sparked debate about whether he is promoting local growth or violating Party regulations. Comments:

Both the law and the Party discipline forbid certain kinds of officials and their family members from running businesses in order to ensure the market is fair. Tang has not only violated discipline himself, but also asked his family members and his subordinates to do this wrong together.

It should be emphasized that the law and discipline are not groundless. Officials control more social resources than ordinary residents and often get inside information, which grants them priority in the market. The law and discipline are meant to make it fair.

Some might argue that local governments are responsible for promoting local growth and Tang intended to perform that job. That's good, but there are many other ways of doing it. For example, he could open a public social network account to make advertisements for the SOE for free, instead of opening an e-shop that earns profits.

Prosecutorial Daily, Nov 17

Before concluding whether Tang violated discipline or the law, let's see what results he has had. His shop now has over 100 branches, whose revenue is about 10,000 yuan ($1,570) a month. Now Tang and his e-shop are so influential in Dunhua that more local residents are willing to copy his example. More importantly, he promised the profits would go to the enterprise.

Tang's moves echo his policy of promoting e-commerce in Dunhua, which is far from prosperous in northeastern provinces. That will in turn boost local economic growth, which is rather bad compared with other provinces of the country. Tang is just trying to do his job well.

That is especially worth encouragement considering that Tang was born in the 1960s. Age does not matter but the percentage of people at his age running e-shops is lower than people who are younger. Many more officials at his age need to show they have an innovative mind. Tang has set a good example for them to be more creative and it is time for more officials to follow in his footsteps., Nov 17


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