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Local official triggers dispute after promoting traditional Chinese medicine

(Xinhua)

14:18, November 02, 2011

LANZHOU/BEIJING, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- A local official in northwest China's Gansu Province has triggered a furious dispute among the public after promoting traditional Chinese medicine on his microblog.

Liu Weizhong, 54, director of the Gansu provincial Department of Health, was given the nickname "pig foot director" by netizens after advocating the medical benefits of pig feet on multiple microblog accounts.

His microblog posts wouldn't necessarily draw criticism on their own, but a recent report by the China Youth Daily stated that a local government website posted Liu's medical articles on its own website.

"These articles might possibly mislead the public, as they may believe that the Gansu provincial government is supporting Liu's recommendations. Liu Weizhong should be responsible for this," said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Social networking sites, including microblogs, have become increasingly popular in China in recent years. Government officials have also taken to using the sites, many of whom have come under scrutiny for controversial posts.

"Government officials need to behave themselves on the Internet because of their position. Their words are more powerful than those of ordinary citizens," according to Zhu Lijia, another professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Liu said that he was prepared to deal with possible controversies as a result of his blogging.

"Before I started to microblog, I heard from experts in Beijing that you need to be prepared to do so," Liu said.

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