Chinese government official under investigation for selling liquor via Douyin live streams

·2-min read

A government official in eastern China is under investigation for selling liquor products while on the job, which would violate Chinese laws that ban public employees from engaging in private business.

The official, who was identified by his surname Zhu, is a middle-tier cadre in the urban management bureau in Xuzhou, in Jiangsu province.

His Douyin account, China’s TikTok, advertised seven different kinds of liquors, and he visited a factory in Anhui province where he introduced their product to his 43,000 online followers.

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The government official was selling liquor in an effort to repay a debt of which he said he was the guarantor. Photo: Thepaper.cn
The government official was selling liquor in an effort to repay a debt of which he said he was the guarantor. Photo: Thepaper.cn

After Zhu was busted, he posted a live-streamed video on Monday admitting he had met with disciplinary officials who had talked to him about the videos.

“I have violated the disciplines, but not law,” he said, adding that he would retire in two years.

Zhu said he started hawking the liquor because he had to help pay around 500,000 yuan (US$78,300) in debt because he was the guarantor for his friend’s bank loan, according to Chutian Metropolis News.

The official was defiant, telling the whistle-blower to confront him in person.

Zhu was also alleged to play online games while working. The Chutian Metropolis News report said Zhu’s account had been suspended because he was swearing at people when he was playing.

China’s laws stipulate that public servants should not engage in private business.

“It showed this official is very idle at work,” one Weibo user commented.

Another said: “How unscrupulous he is! He did not even know he was wrong.”

However, some internet users sided with Zhu. “You did not sell goods to earn money for yourself. You just wanted to help a friend,” wrote one person on Douyin.

Officials have used Douyin to promote products before, but that was an advertising campaign to promote local retailers, usually farmers.

Many county-level officials took to live-streaming apps in 2020 to push agricultural products to their followers in an effort to kick-start an agriculture industry that had stagnated during the coronavirus outbreak since 2019. They would not have received any money for their efforts.

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