Online anti-corruption sparks debate

By Chen Xia
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, October 23, 2009
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Perhaps one of the worst moments in Zhou Jiugeng's life is when he was found quietly weeping in shabby clothes, a stark contrast to his former extravagant lifestyle.

Zhou Jiugeng on court. [File photo] 

On September 4, 2009, the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court opened trial on Zhou, the former director of the Real Estate Management Bureau of Jiangning District, Nanjing. On October 10, a little more than a month later, he was sentenced to 11 years in jail, with 1.2 million yuan (approximately US$175,000) of personal property confiscated.

Life is full of changes. Ten months earlier, Zhou Jiugeng was still a lofty official, wearing a Vacheron Constantin watch and smoking pricey cigarettes. His sentence triggered a massive debate, as did the exposure of his luxurious lifestyle.

Some hailed Zhou's downfall as a victory of Chinese netizens, whose efforts revealed that local anti-corruption measures had served no function. Other people argued the trial was a result of the central government's strengthened efforts against corruption, insisting that online anti-corruption efforts may lead to violence from the majority and even corrupt officials should have a right to dignity.

Should online anti-corruption efforts continue? This is a question left by Zhou Jiugeng's case.

A corrupt case exposed by photo

The person who gave Zhou Jiugeng away was Zhou himself.

In an interview with nine local media on December 10 last year, Zhou introduced that in the previous 11 months, the average housing price in Jiangning District was 4,913 yuan/square meters, up by 12.8 percent as compared with 2007.

Then, he was quoted by the media as saying, "The general construction cost should be at least 5,500 yuan; therefore, anyone selling flats under this price should be deemed illegal competition." In front of the media, Zhou announced his decision to punish those who were selling flats below cost.

His words sparked widespread public anger.

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