A northern China official is being slammed for allegedly wearing luxury accessories worth thousands of US dollars during a coronavirus press conference.
Li Shaoli, deputy director of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Administrative Approvals and Utilities Bureau, was seen wearing earrings believed to belong to luxury brand Van Cleef & Arpels and a scarf suspected of being made by Hermès during a recent press conference on a Covid-19 outbreak, Jiefang Daily reported.
The Communist Party Municipal Committee Disciplinary Inspection Commission opened an investigation into the case after a massive public outcry over the alleged luxury accessories.
The earrings Li wore appear identical to two types of products named Vintage Alhambra and Sweet Alhambra respectively, which are priced at 30,500 yuan (S$6,000) and 18,600 yuan (US$2,600) respectively, according to the Van Cleef & Arpels official website.
Netizens who saw the press conference also spotted that her scarf resembled one made by Hermes, which sold for more than 4,000 yuan.
Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, has recorded 286 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,371 asymptomatic ones since last month. The city of 3.5 million people has been under instant lockdown for three weeks to curb the outbreak.
Qiao Xinsheng, a public affairs expert from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, said government officials should avoid wearing luxury goods.
“Civil servants are leaders and exemplars of the atmosphere of society. They should advocate a simple and frugal consumer mindset,” Qiao said.
Government officials wearing luxury items can easily touch a nerve with the mainland public which has been reeling from frugality amid an economic downturn in recent years.
A rural official in the central province of Hunan was exhibited last year wearing a Hermes leather belt during a government meeting. Following a public backlash, local authorities revealed that the leather belt was a fake purchased for 140 yuan.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued eight rules in 2012 to crack down on extravagance by officials, including advocating economy and stipulating the type of cars and houses allocated to senior officials.
Central authorities issued a directive two years ago calling on government officials to set an example for the public in a national campaign against food waste.
This article was first published in the South China Morning Post.