Keeping it in the family has led to allegations of political manipulation during township elections in a Henan county.
The vote in Gushi county, Xinyang, resulted in the election of 12 township and village heads who were either relatives of county officials or of two real estate tycoons in the county.
The government of Xinyang is now investigating the election.
Suspicions about the vote first surfaced in a recent article published on blog.sohu.com by netizen Zhang Hongfeng, who collected tip-offs posted online by local officials who expressed anger over government corruption.
A spokesman from Xinyang's discipline inspection commission told China Daily yesterday that investigators would try to find out whether the election procedure abided by the law and whether those related to government officials were favored over their competitors.
He said investigators are talking with local officials and have set up a complaint hotline for people to call in tips, but he did not say how long the investigation would take.
Zhou Hui, a spokesman for Gushi county, confirmed to People's Daily that most of the newly elected township and village heads are "offspring of local county officials."
But he said no one could deny them their rights to hold government positions if they proved themselves capable.
Deng Yuehai, the newly elected head of Xuji Village, told China Daily he did not think the election had been manipulated by government.