India-inspired anti-graft movement in China

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 woxinghuiliao.com.

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

Chen runs woxinghuiliao.com 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.

PTI



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

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