China's craze for online anti-corruption

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 6, 2012
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A number of officials have been removed from their posts due to corruption or misconduct after investigations by disciplinary authorities. However, all were exposed by Internet users who found the initial clues that led to investigations.

Chinese netizens are embracing "online anti-corruption", a sign of the country's endeavor to fight wrongdoing.

Power of internet

The latest was Yuan Zhanting, mayor of northwestern capital city of Lanzhou in Gansu Province.

Yuan was exposed by netizen Zhou Lubao on Monday at various public events wearing pricey watches, with the most expensive estimated up to 200,000 yuan (31,746 U.S. dollars).

The provincial disciplinary authorities have promised to look into the case, which resembles that of Yang Dacai, a work safety official in Shaanxi Province who was sacked in September after Internet users posted photos of him wearing luxury timepieces that he could not afford on his above-board earnings.

In October, Cai Bin, an urban management official in southern Guangdong Province, was dismissed from his post after online postings tipped that he owned 22 houses.

The most lurid scandal is Lei Zhengfu, a district head in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, whose sex video with a female was leaked to the Internet, leading to his sacking within only 63 hours.

The Internet showed its teeth as early as 2009, when Zhou Jiugeng, a former real estate management official in east China's city of Nanjing, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for bribery. It followed an investigation that was spurred by online photos showing him smoking cigarettes of exorbitant prices.

Echoing the top

Recent exposures of official wrongdoings have also been helped by central government, which has vowed to combat corruption.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership has warned that corruption could lead to the collapse of the Party and the fall of the state.

Xi Jinping, newly elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said in a speech after the 18th CPC National Congress that the Party had to solve problems such as "corruption, being divorced from the people, going through formalities and bureaucracy."

Experts said that China's fight with corruption, with enthusiastic participation of netizens, has entered a new stage and the undertaking needs legal and institutional guarantee.

The outcry of Internet users demanding justice from the government has also forced China's disciplinary authorities to combat corruption in a more proactive way.

Authorities in Guangdong Province announced this week that they will launch a pilot regulation that will require local officials to disclose their assets, as well as those of their relatives, to a certain amount of people.

A spokesman with the Guangzhou Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection, Mei Heqing, said authorities are working on a corruption prevention information system that will integrate data from various government departments to find clues about corrupt officials.

Double-edged sword

Though proving efficient and effective in fighting corruption, "online anti-corruption" however has its limits and sometimes can do harm to innocent people, experts warned.

After the case of Cai, an Internet posting revealed that Li Yunqing, a retired senior engineer in Guangzhou, owned 24 houses and was suspected of corruption.

An investigation however showed that Li, neither a CPC member nor a Party official, owned the houses with her son through hard work or investment.

The incident left Li angry, as her personal information had been leaked to the Internet.

Zhang Youde, head of the Social Management School, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said Internet muckrakers should take legal responsibility if they cross the line and violate the privacy of others.

Zhang said legislation should be put in place to rein in the negative effects brought to society by "online anti-corruption".

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