An unidentified man has spent the past several months impersonating a Beijing bureaucrat although he has no official post or credentials. Posing as a high-ranking mandarin and known only by his pseudonym, "Zhao Xiyong" (赵锡永), the man has made public appearances and even given policy speeches in Yunnan.
The fraud was uncovered when several different Yunnan bureaus contacted the Policy Research Office of the State Council in Beijing to verify Zhao's identity. The State Council found that not only did no such man exist but that no one had been authorized to conduct the research and assessments in which Zhao had been involved.
In response, on March 8, the General Office of Yunnan issued a statement warning "all relevant [governmental] departments to be on the lookout for fraud". Zhao has so far not been positively identified and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Whoever he may be, the man posing as Zhao has passed himself off as holding a PhD in Economics as well as being a representative from the State Council's Development Research Center. He has made 'official' visits to Kunming and Yuxi.
In the Spring City, Zhao toured the campus of Kunming University of Science and Technology as well as several factories. He also atttended a manufacturing symposium in Kunming entitled "2012 Autumn Harvest" (2012收获金秋).
The conference was attended by representatives from hundreds of domestic and international enterprises. Zhao reportedly addressed the conference and delivered a speech on the state of China's western Bridgehead Strategy (桥头堡战略) for the years 2012-2020.
In February, Zhao travelled to Yuxi, ostensibly to study the effects of Yunnan's ongoing drought. There he met with Yuxi vice-mayor Fan Rukun (范汝坤) before embarking with 89 research colleagues (requires proxy) on a tour of farms, villages and irrigation projects.
Speculation on Zhao's motivation remains muted. As of yet, he has not used his fake identity for any monetary gain, such as hotel stays or banquets. Instead, the public and media response has centered largely on the entrenched culture of deference surrounding government officials. If caught and convicted, Zhao could face 3-10 years in prison.
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