Micro blogs make graft fight hot news
Updated: 2013-05-15 08:50
By Cui Jia and Cao Yin (China Daily)
More people are using social media to tackle corrupt officials, as Cui Jia and Cao Yin report.
As one of the first people in China to attempt to expose corrupt officials via micro blogs, Zhou Wenbin considers himself the teacher of Luo Changping, a reporter who recently used his micro blog to accuse a ministry-level official of abuse of power.
Zhou, who works at Lixin county's land and resources bureau in Bozhou city, Anhui province, didn't realize the power of the micro blog until he decided to post news of his visit to the city's Commission for Discipline Inspection on April 13, 2011, where he planned to accuse his bureau chief of accepting bribes.
"I spent a year informing the county-level Commission for Discipline Inspection of my suspicions, but they just ignored me," Zhou, 45, said.
However, when he told a friend about his plan to take the issue to a higher authority, the friend suggested he use Sina Weibo, a micro blog service often known as "China's Twitter", to publicize the trip and generate greater public attention.
Zhou registered for a Sina Weibo account, and practiced making posts on his "not-so-smart mobile phone" for a week before he carried out his plan.
During Zhou's journey to Bozhou and roughly an hour after he sent his first post exposing his bureau chief, the City Commission for Discipline Inspection contacted him, as did a television station, which displayed great interest in reporting the story. "I didn't expect to get feedback that quickly. Many people used their micro blogs to express support for me, which made me feel I wasn't alone."
Under pressure from the public and the press, the commission dispatched a team to Lixin county to investigate the case three days after Zhou's visit. Zhou's claims were upheld and the bureau chief was warned and disciplined.
'Flies' and 'tigers'
"What I did was quite innovative back then, but now exposing officials on micro blogs has become an everyday occurrence because of the attention it generates, both from the public and the media," said Zhou, who recently bought a smartphone to enable him to update pictures and text more quickly.
"I only caught a 'fly', while Luo caught the first 'tiger' in the wake of a pledge by China's new leadership to fight corruption. We both have to thank the micro blogs," added Zhou.
In April, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his Party Congress message that the disciplinary authorities must crack down on both "tigers" and "flies", referring to officials involved in major or minor corruption.
Liu Tienan was removed from his official posts on Tuesday. [Photo by Zhang Ke / for China Daily]
In December, Luo used his Sina Weibo account to publicly accuse Liu Tienan, director of the National Energy Administration and a deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, of falsifying his academic qualifications and engaging in "improper dealings" with business associates.
Luo said on Monday that it had taken him a year to confirm and crosscheck the tip-offs he'd received before posting them on his micro blog. In its initial response to Luo's accusations, the NEA press office denied the allegations, but it emerged that Liu was removed from his official posts on Tuesday.