Zhao Xiyong, who Pete DeMola implored us all to learn from, has been arrested. The 58-year-old made waves last month when media discovered he had been impersonating a high-level Chinese official for years. A warrant was put out for his arrest on March 19, and he was captured three days later. As SCMP reports, he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of “fraud and impersonating a state official for the sake of personal benefit.”
Zhao has an interesting defense:
On Wednesday, his lawyer said Zhao would plead not guilty to charges of fraud, because his client had not profited financially from them. He said Zhao just thought he could do better than China’s real officials.
That he didn’t profit either makes him the best or worst Chinese official ever. If it’s true, we imagine it must have aroused suspicion. As Wang Xiaofang’s A Civil Servant’s Notebook teaches us, officials stay clean at the risk of their career, and the careers of those around them. They wouldn’t last.
But perhaps authorities, instead of punishing Wang, should take the opposite approach. Wang wants to do their job, and do it without the perks. Hire the man.