City in Hebei investigating early retirements of 62 officials
Cangzhou, Hebei province, is investigating a case in which 62 government officials were forced to take early retirement last month.
The retirements in Huanghua, a county-level city under Cangzhou, have been suspended, according to the Cangzhou government.
Liu Jianjun, deputy director of the statistics bureau in Huanghua, said he was summoned to attend a meeting held by the city government on Nov 15, where he was required to sign a document saying he was willing to step down from his current position.
“I never thought my retirement would come so suddenly,” he said, adding that, by law, he still has five years before reaching retirement age. Another 61 government officials in lead positions of bureaus and departments were given similar documents by the Huanghua government.
Liu said he signed as required, as he understood he had no chance for further promotion. “We should step down to make room for young people,” he said. The government of Huanghua confirmed it asked the officials, all aged above 52, to step down.
The current regulation on civil servants allows men aged 60 and women aged 55 to take retirement.
After the early retirements were reported by local media on Monday, the Cangzhou city government suspended them immediately and launched an investigation.
For the time being, the 62 officials have been asked to go back to work, but many have not yet returned.
“It has been a common practice for years in cities and counties to have senior officials make room for young officials after they reach their 50s,” said Zhang Chengcong, deputy director of the Economic Research Center of Hebei Normal University.
The numbers of lead positions in government are limited, he said. “With this move, the government can keep the lead team younger, with more courage and energy.
“Some officials don’t want to step down early because they do not want to give up the privileges they get from their positions,” he said.
Although governments are researching postponing the retirement age, many local governments, especially at the grassroots level, still continue the practice of early retirement for senior officials, he said, citing his research.
“The system of civil servants is quite different from the work system in companies, so it’s a big challenge for governments to extend the working period for officials,” he said.
Wang Ge contributed to this story.