‘Don’t pick teeth in public’: 10 commandments for Chinese bureaucrats draw netizens’ mockery

April 11

The sun sets behind China's national flag fluttering atop the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

BEIJING – Don’t suck up to your boss, don’t use jargon when making speeches, don’t act high and mighty, and never smoke or pick your teeth in public.

Those are some of the items on a list of “10 forbidden behaviors” issued to Communist Party officials in a county in southwestern China this year that one local newspaper says has been a great success but that has been widely mocked online.

As part of his efforts to reform the Communist Party and bring it closer to ordinary people, Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked cadres to avoid a “bureaucratic work-style,” as well as to eliminate corruption.

After receiving 1,700 suggestions from public opinion polls, symposia, investigations and interviews, the Communist Party committee in Sichuan province's Pengshan County issued a list in late February of 10 commandments cadres should follow. On April 8, the county government also established a new channel people could use to blow the whistle on officials who ignored the new rules, encouraging citizens to take photographs of offenders on their smartphones.

On Friday, a Sichuan newspaper enthusiastically reported that efforts to reform the bureaucracy in Pengshan County had been effective.

Among the other behaviors forbidden by the Party are: throwing trash from car windows, parking illegally, getting other people to ghost write documents and making empty promises to the masses. Bullying people or getting them to carry your bags, open your car door or pour your tea is also frowned upon.

But the report has become a source of both amusement and despair on Chinese social media.

“These are basic manners and ways of treating people. But officials can’t do it. How can such low-quality people be officials serving the people?” asked one user on the Sina Weibo microblogging service.

“They need to be taught such simple things?” another user asked. “These officials should go back to primary school to start over.”

“It looks really funny, but it’s pretty sad when you think about it,” said another. “Many of these 10 prohibitions are basic moral rules of human beings. Are these cadres not humans? Only such an explanation makes sense.”

“In a civilized society, officials should be anyway be governed by some basic principles of conduct,” said a fourth person.  “Ridiculous officials, ridiculous government and ridiculous society.”

For the record, here are the 10 behaviors forbidden in Pengshan County.

  1. It is not allowed to flatter or kiss the ass of one's superior: One must express one's real views.
  2.  It is not allowed to make inspection trips in a cursory way, and it is not allowed to bring any unnecessary accompanying personnel during such trips.
  3.  It is not allowed to use jargon while making speeches: Clear points should be made.
  4.  It is not allowed to be a "hands-off" boss.
  5.  It is not allowed to ask others to write one's personal documents.
  6.  It is not allowed to act high and mighty in front of the masses or subordinates. It is not allowed to fold hands behind one's back, curse or point fingers while talking to the masses.
  7.  It is not allowed to make empty promises or say "I don't know" or "Don't ask me" to the masses when they try to make an inquiry.
  8.  It is not allowed to ask others to carry bags, pour tea, open or close car doors; it is not allowed to throw trash from the car windows.
  9. It is not allowed to smoke or to pick one's teeth in the public; it is not allowed to be sloppily dressed.
  10. It is not allowed to bully people at the compound one lives in; it is not allowed to postpone paying the property management fees or to park illegally.

So far, no reports of misbehavior have been received through the new official channel, the Huaxi Metropolis Daily reported.

Simon Denyer is The Post’s bureau chief in China. He served previously as bureau chief in India and as a Reuters bureau chief in Washington, India and Pakistan.
Comments
Show Comments

Get the WorldViews newsletter

Sign up for daily updates from WorldViews.

Most Read World
Next Story
Ruth Eglash · April 10