Four township officials in eastern China's Jiangsu province have been sacked for listing doctors as the top target in a campaign leaflet to fight organised crime.
The leaflet - published by authorities in Weitang, Suzhou to promote the ongoing nationwide campaign - referred to doctors as the country's No 1 profession with "a dark heart", photos circulating on the internet showed.
"This industry is beyond remedy," the leaflet reads. "There is no patient who hasn't had money swindled from them because they have no choice between life and money. This industry is top of the list - its unscrupulousness has been widely accepted but it affects everyone."
Social media users - especially doctors - reacted to the leaflet with disbelief and anger after it was posted online on Tuesday.
On Weibo, China's Twitter, a doctor in Zhejiang asked if it was a "smear campaign waged by the government against doctors".
"Residents will surely believe it and think doctors overcharge them and write unnecessary prescriptions, which will lead to distrust of doctors and disputes in hospitals," the doctor wrote.
Another said: "So the crackdown on organised crime isn't targeting the mafia … so we are the mafia. Isn't this a bit too reckless for a government publication?"