A newly elected member of a local congress resigned after reports surfaced that she owed a businessman 3.5 million yuan ($520,000) and was on a national list of debtors, according to a government statement posted online Tuesday.
In September Wang Ying, 41, became a member of congress for Guangfeng District of Shangrao, a city in eastern China’s Jiangxi province. An investigation into how she was able to be become a lawmaker is ongoing, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Wednesday.
Trouble started when the news of Wang’s new job reached a businessman known only by his surname, Chen, in Dongguan, a city in southern Guangdong province some 1,000 kilometers away. Chen told The Paper Wang owed him millions of yuan.
According to Chen, Wang and her husband had started a shoe factory in Dongguan but ran into money problems. Wang borrowed from Chen three times, starting in 2013. However, Wang shut down the factory after one year and left her debt unpaid. A court later ordered Wang to clear the debt, and her refusal to do so landed her on a national list of debtors with poor credit.
People on this list and their companies face several restrictions, often making it difficult if not impossible for them to apply for loans or buy airline tickets.
According to the announcement from Guangfeng District, the local government hadn’t realized Wang’s debt problem until The Paper’s first article on Tuesday raised the issue. Wang has confessed to the inquiry panel of the district congress that she concealed the matter of her debt during the election. The statement said an investigation into those responsible is ongoing.
In July, a deputy chief of a county agricultural bureau in northwestern Shaanxi province was put on the province’s bad-credit list for an unpaid loan of 3 million yuan. And in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, a member of the provincial Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body, was blacklisted in August for a debt of 20 million yuan.
Teng Xiufu, a district congress leader from Anhui province, eastern China, responded to the news with a commentary on ChinaElections.org, a website focusing on Chinese political reform. He said that some debtors with poor credit want to get a local congress position because they see it as a way to avoid punishment, as congress members cannot be arrested without approval from higher-up. “We must take congressional elections more seriously by heightening scrutiny of candidates’ qualification,” Teng wrote.
(Han Meng/Sixth Tone)