tuesday, 23 june of 2015

Chinese smartphone app adds new feature to dob in corrupt cadres

China’s anti-corruption crusaders have added a new weapon to their armoury, launching a smartphone app that allows members of the public to snitch on thieving Communist party officials by uploading photos and videos of their crimes.

Beijing’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – the agency tasked with fighting corruption – launched an “anti-corruption app”, which can be downloaded for free from Apple’s App Store, in January.

A new feature unveiled this week allows “citizen whistleblowers” to send compromising images of wayward officials straight to investigators.

“It aims to provide greater convenience for citizens to report officials who indulge in banquets or travel using public money … who take bribes and hold lavish weddings or funerals,” the commission’s website says.

The involvement of ordinary Chinese people was key to the success of President Xi Jinping’s attempts to clean up the party, Gao Bo, the deputy secretary general of Beijing’s anti-corruption research centre, told state television this year.

“Their opinion and ideas – no matter what – can be beneficial to authorities,” Gao told CCTV.

A reporter for the state broadcaster added: “Anyone can blow the whistle on any official.”

Xi’s high-profile war on corruption led to more than 70,000 officials being punished last year, according to the government.

The campaign reached a crescendo last week when Beijing announced that Zhou Yongkang, the former security tsar, had been jailed for life for taking 129m yuan (more than $2o.5m) in bribes and leaking secret files.

“Zhou’s case not only shows the party’s courage in facing up to weakness and disciplining itself, but is a strong warning to those in power,” an editorial by Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said after the sentence was announced. “Only by staying alert to temptation can an official refrain from crossing the line of integrity.”

But many observers see the crackdown partly as a pretext for a purge of Xi’s political rivals.

Experts also ask whether Beijing really wants public participation in its drive against corrupt officials. Last year a respected human rights lawyer who had campaigned for officials to disclose their assets was jailed for four years on what supporters said were trumped-up charges.

(Published by The Guardian - June 19, 2015)

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