Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 09/21/2012

Chinese official fired for smiling at crash site, wearing fancy watches

A Chinese safety official who was seen smiling at the scene of a bus crash that killed 36 people has been fired, the BBC reports.


Rescue personnel and officials stand at the scene of an accident between a bus and a methanol-loaded tanker in this still image taken from video in Yan'an, Shaanxi province on Aug. 26, 2012. (Reuters)

Photos posted online of Yang Dacai, head of the Shaanxi provincial work safety administration, grinning while visiting the fiery crash site in August were what first caught the eye of angry Chinese bloggers. What really set them over the edge, though, were images of Yang wearing luxury watches, some costing more than $5,000.

“An investigation into Yang’s ‘inappropriate behaviour of “grinning” as well as wearing luxurious watches’ found him guilty of ‘serious wrongdoing,’ according to the BBC. Yang has been stripped of his official duties.

As The Washington Post’s William Wan reported, thousands of Chinese netizens combed through images of Yang after the crash incident, deriding his luxe watch collection and estimating its value to be well above the salary of a state official.

Read: In China, officials’ watches get watched


A man walks past an advertisement for a foreign-made watch on March 22, 2006, in Shanghai. (Eugene Hoshiko - Associated Press)

“How else could he afford these watches if not through corruption?” read one of the thousands of social media postings. Bloggers also identified Yang wearing what looked like designer Lotos glasses and expensive belts.

Yang later said he was smiling to put others at ease in the stressful moment, and he claimed that he bought his accessories with hard-earned personal income.

Chinese authorities have attempted to contain anger over perceived expensive tastes and corruption among public servants, the AFP reported. The scorn from bloggers has gotten so bad in the country that China recently announced rules to limit agencies’ purchasing of luxury goods.

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By  |  12:22 PM ET, 09/21/2012

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