Internet users help expose corruption

Dec. 7, 2012 at 1:58 AM
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BEIJING, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Internet users in China, where censorship is tough, have won praise for helping expose official corruption, a rampant problem in the country, officials said.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday a number of Chinese officials have been dismissed because of corruption or misconduct after official investigations resulting from initial exposure by Internet users.

Chinese netizens, or Internet users, are embracing "online anti-corruption" as part of an endeavor to fight wrongdoing, the report said.

Xinhua cited the case of the mayor of a northwestern capital city, who was exposed by a netizen after allegedly being seen at various public events wearing expensive wrist watches, with the price of the most costly piece estimated at $31,746, the report said.

In another case in October, an urban management official in a province was fired by authorities who were tipped off by online postings showing he owned 22 houses, the report said.

In a lurid case, Xinhua said, a district head in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality was sacked after his sex video with a female was leaked on the Internet.

The new leadership in the country has warned corruption and misconduct, if not checked, could lead to the collapse of the Communist Party and the state.

The report quoted experts as saying China's fight against corruption, aided by netizens demanding justice, needs legal and institutional guarantees.

At the same time, the experts said the "online anti-corruption" campaign has its limits and sometimes can do harm to innocent people, such as in the case of a woman shown in an Internet posting as owning 24 houses. The report said investigation later showed she owned the houses with her son through hard work and investment.

Zhang Youde, head of social management at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, told Xinhua Internet muckrakers should take legal responsibility if they violate the privacy of others.

Censorship in China affecting print, broadcast and online reports has been widely criticized. Chinese authorities are finding their online censoring task increasingly tougher because the number of users has jumped dramatically, to an estimated half-billion.

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