Four deputy secretaries of various government offices in Shandong Province were sacked on the same day recently, apparently part of a push to slim down local government.
Those fired were Yu Yi, director of Shandong’s Beijing liaison office since February 2006, and deputy secretary since March 2008; Ma Yuenan, deputy secretary for years before also taking on the post of chief of the provincial Food and Drug Administration in 2013; and Feng Rui and Zhang Zhongming, who held bland deputy secretary posts in office administration in the Shandong government.
There are 8 deputy governors in Shandong, but 13 deputy secretaries before the recent purge. In July this year, Zhang Zezhong, another deputy secretary, was given a suspended death sentence on corruption charges. Now there are only eight deputy secretaries left in Shandong.
Just a day before the four officials were fired, Xinhua Net, the state mouthpiece, reported that a roving team from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection had identified 11 provinces with the problem of “over staffing,” including Jilin, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia and others.
Liaoning had overstaffed by the number of 26,272 people while Jiangxi was overstaffed by 5,202 people, reported Xinhua Net.
The “deputy secretary” role is itself a vague one, according to the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao. No law clearly defines the job, and there are usually many more deputy secretaries than necessary. They have overlapping roles, and precisely what they do is never clarified.
“Deputy positions, deputy secretaries, assistants, inspectors, researchers… there are simply too many different titles,” said Wang Xixin, Vice Dean of Peking University Law School. “It is a way to provide benefits to people who just got promoted. It is basically an exchange of interests.”