City chief blogs about officials' bad attitudes

Updated: 2008-01-03 19:50

BEIJING -- A city official in East China set off an online storm a few days ago when he posted an entry on his blog that criticized the attitudes of local civil servants.

The entry, "The Foreign Culture Impact," posted by Zhang Xinshi, Communist Party head of Suqian City in Jiangsu Province, included a letter from a Singaporean investor, who complained to him about the local government's inefficiency and officials' rudeness in dealing with his complaints.

The investor said in the letter that the entrenched bad habits of some officials needed attention. He complained, for example, that officials had once cut the water supply without notifying residents beforehand, entered his factory without his permission and called him an indecent nickname.

"We should learn a lesson from his complaints and make a big deal of these seemingly trivial things," Zhang's post said. If the cultural differences were not addressed, the investment environment would be destroyed, he added.

"To respect a different culture is building the soft power of Chinese culture," Zhang said, using the neologism put forward in last year's National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Zhang personally apologized to the investor and ordered a thorough investigation.

The entry drew more than 230,000 clicks within two days of being posted, second only to his controversial review of Lust, Caution, a blockbuster film directed by Ang Lee.

More than 100 netizens have commented on the entry, and most voiced support for Zhang's courage and determination.

"You are very brave to bring to light the dark side of our government and thank you for your determination to uproot these bad habits among the local officials," said a local netizen who gave her name as Lu Jiejing.

But some saw it differently.

"This had nothing to do with the cultural difference, but with the officials' professionalism," said a netizen who used the name Between Confucius and Chuang-tse.

This isn't the first time Zhang has had a high-profile encounter with Chinese netizens. Last December, Zhang, on his blog, called Lust, Caution a "subversion of historical authenticity and moral values."

Zhang was among the first Chinese officials to launch a public blog in 2006, and he has called on his fellow citizens to live a more civilized life and end such bad habits as spitting and leaving the toilet without flushing.

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