China Hunts Scammer Who Pretended to Be Party Honcho

Zhao Xiyong pulled stunt off for years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2013 1:19 AM CDT
Fake Chinese Minister Duped Party for Years
Zhao spent years touring the province meeting with local officials.   (Kunming University)

With his dark suits, cigarettes, interminable speeches, and fondness for lavish banquets, Zhao Xiyong was in many ways a typical Chinese Communist Party official—except he wasn't one. Police in China are hunting a man who spent three years in Yunnan province pretending to be a high-ranking official from Beijing, the Telegraph reports. Local party officials never questioned his status as he toured the province, where he was treated as an honored guest at conferences and enjoyed many a free meal.

Zhao's trickery was only exposed after he promised a conference in the provincial capital, Kunming, that Beijing had approved a new free-trade zone to help the city's economy. The announcement made the local papers and after a flood of inquiries, officials in Beijing announced that Zhao was an impostor. His current whereabouts—and true identity—are unknown, but he will be facing up to 10 years in prison if police catch up with him. (More Yunnan stories.)

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