The Communist Party of China (CPC)’s municipal committee of Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province warned on Sunday that the incident that has spiraled over the past few days involving a report which claimed Xi’an local officials requested to be segregated from other passengers on a flight has “raised an alarm” about unwanted working styles.
In a Wednesday report on aviation news site cana.org.cn, which has since been deleted, the Xi’an Branch of China Southern Airlines said that the branch had arranged for 66 city officials to sit in the first 11 rows of a flight to Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The airline’s branch said that it “segregated officials from normal passengers” at the clients’ request.
However, the airline later changed its story, saying in a Saturday Sina Weibo post that officials did not request special treatment and said the Xi’an delegation purchased seats in accordance with the eight-point rules which aim to curb bureaucracy, extravagance and undesirable work practices of Party members.
The delegation were seated in the economy class between row 31 and 58, said the airline, adding that some staff members of the airline “sent false information in haste while not knowing the actual situation.”
The Xi’an Party committee responded on its official WeChat account on Sunday, saying that the local officials involved held a meeting Saturday night on the topic and reflected on their actions.
The committee said that the incident “raised an alarm for the Party’s working style construction” and officials should “learn the lesson, conduct self-reflection and find out where one falls short before we can improve further.”
The report triggered wide discussion, with some challenging the legitimacy of the officials’ privileges while others saying that the clarification of the airline, and responses from Xi’an may make things appear even worse.
“It is normal for an airline company to arrange concentrated seating for group customers, therefore the demand for allocating seats together is reasonable,” Zhuang Deshui, a deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity-Building at Peking University, told the Global Times.
“But if they require a segregated space, it could be seen as privilege mentality of these officials and breaching the Party rules,” said Zhuang.
“If the Xi’an officials did not breach the eight-point rules, the incident may go away soon. But it should be noted that almost all reports involving officials’ questionable behavior could trigger an explosion of negative emotion among the masses,” Feng Yue, a political science expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
He added that the improvement of official’s work style should be made in a way that the public can really feel and see the changes, and that is the fundamental solution.
The eight-point rules were formulated in 2012 to improve Party official’s working styles.
— (Global Times)
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