China sacks drunk official outed on Internet

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ministry of transport has fired an official in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen after photos and video clips of his drunken misbehavior in a seafood restaurant appeared online.

Lin Jiaxiang, former Communist Party chief and deputy director of the Shenzhen Maritime Safety Administration, was identified in the online images, which show him trying to force a young girl into the men’s restroom at the restaurant, the Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The girl, identified elsewhere as 11 years old, escaped.

China’s leadership is increasingly quick to react to public incidents of official misbehavior to try and dampen widespread disgust over corruption and officials’ abuse of power.

“Sanlu poisoned our people’s future, the evil of public officials strangles it, does our people even have a future?” asked one entry on popular online forum Tianya. Sanlu is the company at the center of an earlier tainted baby formula scandal in which tens of thousands of infants fell ill and four died.

Other online news services carried interviews with the parents of the 11-year old girl. Lin had bragged he was a high official from Beijing and offered money to appease them, the interviews said.

The ministry will conduct further investigations before imposing any punishment, Xinhua said.

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Writing by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Paul Tait