Chinese Communist Party cadres have been struggling to keep their scintillating celebrity personalities out of sight as an army of internet users in the country stands ready to expose all and any examples of misconduct with their naming-and-shaming "human flesh searches" calling out unseemly or possibly corrupt behavior.
One such cadre only remembered the precarious nature of life under the scrutiny of netizens in the middle of recording a TV program. The TV host posted on his microblog that the official, who was making a guest appearance on the program, suddenly asked the crew to stop filming in the middle of the shoot.
He then walked off the set, removed his watch, put on a coat, fastened his buttons, hid his belt and looked at himself in the mirror. Satisfied that he now cut an appropriately humble appearance, he returned to the stage and asked them to resume filming, covering up his actions by saying, "It's such a hot day!" reports the official China Youth Daily.
It's fairly safe to say that China's public distrusts their officials, especially in light of two recent incidents, one in which an official appeared to act inappropriately, and another in which an official undeniably acted inappropriately. The first involved a local safety official who was photographed grinning at the scene of a road accident which left 36 dead in northern China. The other involved a senior local official from Guangzhou who fought with a flight attendant, grabbing her arm so hard that he left ugly red weals which were later posted on the internet with several independent witnesses verifying the incident.
Cadres are aware of the new power of the internet to hold their every deed up for criticism. An administrator of one website posted a message saying that he was woken up by a phone call one morning from a cadre asking for photos of him to be deleted. The forum of the website often posts or forwards tens of thousands of stories concerning senior officials, some of whom have been photographed wearing clothes and accessories estimated to be worth millions of yuan, far beyond what their official salary could be expected to afford.
A caption under a photo of an official posted online sums up the public attitude to party members. The caption offers mock guidelines for an official to follow before leaving the house in the morning: "Don't drive a luxury car; remove the label of luxury brand clothes; place expensive cigarettes in an ordinary box; wear a pair of ordinary glasses; don't bring your "goddaughter" along when you go out; keep a cool expression — untimely smiles will bring unwanted trouble; don't say anything you wouldn't want to be heard by everyone in the country when an accident occurs; hitting flight attendants is acceptable, as long as you block official blogs."