Jiang Xiaojuan, a policewoman in Jiangyou, Sichuan province, breastfeeds a baby orphaned by the May 12 earthquake. [Photo: Xinhua]
Despite public controversy, a policewoman who breastfed babies during earthquake relief work has been promoted to a ranking post in the local police bureau.
Jiang Xiaojuan, whose actions earned her the nickname "Police Mom", was appointed a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of the Jiangyou public security bureau and also made the bureau's vice-commissar on Thursday, an official surnamed Su from the organization department of the Jiangyou CPC Committee, Sichuan province, said on Saturday.
The woman is now on a speaking tour and would assume office upon returning to Jiangyou, the official said.
Su denied media reports that the promotion had been suspended because of controversy.
Many people voiced objections when the Jiangyou government sought public opinion after the promotion. Critics said official positions should not be used to promote moral models.
"Such a promotion would fuel speculative activities," wrote a netizen with the screen name "West Line" on forum.xinhuanet.com. Another netizen said the promotion should solely depend on the candidate's competence.
However, many people also supported Jiang's promotion, because they believed her actions were those of a good public servant.
Su applauded the debate, saying, "it shows the public is concerned about government officials' promotions and demonstrates an enthusiasm for politics".
"However, we have gone through due procedures and believe she is qualified for her new post," he said.
The mother of a 6-month old left her own baby with her parents to join relief work after the May 12 earthquake devastated Sichuan province.
Moved by the plight of babies separated from their mothers, the 30-year-old breastfed nine of them, and photographs of her breastfeeding the infants were quickly disseminated across the country.
She has since been awarded the laudatory titles of "hero and model police officer" and "excellent member of the Communist Party" by the Ministry of Public Security and the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)