Tue, Aug 06, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Whistleblowers pay price in China

‘LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP’:Despite officials’ endorsement of ‘public opinion-based oversight,’ anti-graft bloggers are subject to censure and brutal assaults

Reuters, HUIZHOU, China

The commission has a page on its Web site for tips from citizens, although it is unclear how many it has received recently. Between 2008 and last year, the commission said it received 301,000 whistleblowing reports online. Officials at the commission declined to comment.

Still, Beijing remains wary of giving people too much latitude and does not give legal protection to whistleblowers.

Indeed, Zhu Ruifeng (朱瑞峰), one of China’s most prominent whistleblowers, discovered last month the authorities had deleted his four microblog accounts. One was reactivated recently after a public outcry.

Zhu, who runs a whistleblowing Web site called “People Supervision Net” in Beijing, does not know who closed the accounts, but said he believes it was because of his recent postings on a government official who had spent lavishly on his mistress.

While he said he believed the party’s discipline commission was sincere about fighting corruption, other government departments did not always like what he did.

“Sometimes I’ll arouse the attention of the discipline commission. [The authorities] have a love-hate relationship with me,” he said.

Last year, Zhu released a video of Lei Zhengfu (雷政富), a district party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing, having sex with his much younger mistress.

CCP officials are banned from having mistresses, and the video came to symbolize to many the excesses of the ruling elite. Lei was sentenced in June to 13 years in jail for bribery.

Zhu said he had never been assaulted, but had received threats through microblog messages and e-mails.

In Dalian, microblogger Bi Meina has accused an official there of misconduct. She posted the claims on her microblog, but did not provide any documentation.

Since May, Bi said she has been followed and received calls and text messages from anonymous users, who have hurled insults.

“The distress is definitely there,” Bi said by e-mail. “I have thought of giving up ... and moving my family abroad.”

In Maoming, another Guangdong city, an official called Zhu Guoyu (朱國瑜) has sought to expose local corruption with his online reports. Nine officials have been convicted as a result of his postings, but his bosses do not like what he does.

“They try to keep me busy so I don’t have time to whistleblow,” he said.

In September last year, men in two cars chased him. In 2011, he was stabbed by unknown assailants, but survived.

Despite the threats faced by bloggers and whistleblowers, the tide will turn in their favor, Zhu Guoyu said.

“There are so many people watching, I believe paper can’t wrap up a fire,” he said, referring to a Chinese saying that means the truth cannot be hidden for too long.

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