August 02, 2004

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The Straits Times has an interesting article on the growing number of Chinese websites that are exposing graft in official-dom. While not necessarily blogs these sites are fulfilling many of the same roles and are starting to have results. However there is speculation there are greater powers at work here than a few lone rangers trying to shed some light on official corruption:

...several websites here have been gaining attention lately for casting an uncomfortable spotlight on official corruption and encouraging Internet users to report such abuses.

Webmasters running two of the websites, and, told The Straits Times they had been publishing incriminating evidence of official wrongdoing well ahead of some of the more daring newspapers here. Citing the example of the 'scandal of the moment' involving Vice-Mayor Li Xin of Shandong province's Jining city, who is under investigation and faces imminent arrest,'s webmaster Liu Lishun said he published several damning photos and documents a week ahead of mainstream news portals and newspapers like the Southern Weekend...

The Internet's growing influence in China and the seemingly mysterious origins of these websites have prompted speculation in some media reports that they have high-level backing. The reports have also suggested the websites could be part of the government's push to root out corrupt local officials who might otherwise use their influence to cover up their tracks or hush up the whistle-blowers. But three of the webmasters running such sites maintained that they were merely acting as concerned citizens.

'Why do I need any special status or background to do this?' asked a Chinese journalist helping to run chinatousu. org. He declined to identify himself. However, media scholars familiar with the development of the Internet in China said with certainty that there had to be some level of official support for these sites. They pointed out that the sites fit in with the government's intention of using the Internet and e-government to promote transparency and root out abuses of power. 'It is a technological solution to a deeper cultural problem,' wrote Nanyang Technological University's Associate Professor Randolph Kluver in an e-mail reply. He added: 'There is a 'tolerance' of websites that focus on criticism, especially on corrupt or incompetent local officials. If the criticism turns to the party as a whole, however, or top-level officials, it will get shut down.'

The article finishes by saying several of the websites mentioned have been shut down or are 'under construction'. Still, it's a start.

posted by Simon on 08.02.04 at 11:16 AM in the


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