India-inspired anti-graft movement in China
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Last Updated: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 20:00
Beijing: The online campaign against corruption in China is gaining ground largely inspired by Indian anti-graft movement, but Chinese officials dismissed the information posted as inadequate for investigations.

"I paid a bribe of 500 yuan (USD 77) to local traffic police getting them to excuse me a 2,000-yuan fine," said a post on the Chinese bribe-reporting website

The idea of setting up the website was inspired by the Indian anti-corruption website, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a person who is connected with the website as saying.

Chen runs in his spare time, as he currently works for a foreign company during the day.

He is supported by several volunteers, who came to him after discovering his website. Chen's website went online on June 11. It encourages netizens to report their own experiences with corruption and bribery.

He said that in addition to rooting out corruption, his original intention was to create an outlet for ordinary citizens to express their frustration regarding bribery and other corrupt practices.

The website is just one of several bribe-reporting websites that have popped up in China recently.

Online posts regarding the corrupt practices of some government officials have helped China's anti-graft authorities to investigate and solve corruption cases in years past.

In October 2009, Zhou Jiugeng, a former local real estate management official in east China's Jiangsu province, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for taking more than one million yuan in bribes.

Zhou was targeted after pictures of him wearing a 100,000-yuan Vacheron Constantin watch, smoking expensive cigarettes and driving a Cadillac were circulated online.

Netizens believed that Zhou's income could not possibly allow him to afford such a luxurious lifestyle, indicating that he was likely to be taking bribes.

In the same year, "Internet anti-corruption" was included as an entry in a dictionary of the publishing house of the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

In December last year, Han Feng, a tobacco official in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for accepting bribes.

Diary posts allegedly written by Han, which described acts of bribery and adultery, were posted online.

Luo Meng, deputy director of the anti-corruption department of the People's Procuratorate in Beijing's Haidian district, disagreed.

"We've noticed these websites, but we find that most of the information posted on these sites has very little value for our investigations," Luo said, adding "If we conduct an investigation, we need the most detailed and specific information possible".

"However, most of the information on these websites is too ambiguous to provide enough help," he said.

The bribe-reporting websites have also triggered concerns over possible violations of privacy rights, said Xinhua.

Although the sites are supposed to be operated in accordance with the law, libel and defamation may occur if the sites are not reasonably administered and managed, Luo said.

Anti-corruption expert Tian agreed that there may be some inaccuracies in online reporting, but argued that libel can only happen in cases where there is "clear, malicious intent."

Disciplinary and anti-graft authorities in China's provincial regions have all set up official corruption reporting websites to enable people to lodge complaints.


First Published: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 20:00

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