A local party chief in northeast China's Liaoning Province has been ordered to resign for having police subpoena a Beijing-based reporter in retaliation for a story about the local justice system.
The Tieling municipal committee of the Communist Party of China(CPC) announced the punishment for Xifeng county party chief Zhang Zhiguo in Xifeng on Tuesday.
The municipal committee ordered the Xifeng CPC committee and the Xifeng government to make a self-criticism, and also told all the officials in Tieling to draw a lesson from the case.
Reporter Zhu Wenna published a story on Jan. 1 this year, in which she claimed that Xifeng officials were not following procedures in a court case against a businesswoman. The report angered Zhang, who in turn dispatched local police to subpoena Zhuin Beijing.
The move by the police sparked nationwide protest, forcing Xifeng police to withdraw the investigation against Zhu on Jan. 9.
Zhu, from Faren Magazine, reported in her story that Zhang had ordered the arrest of a woman for libel after she had sent a sarcastic text message alleging corruption. The woman's gas station had been demolished to make way for a market with meagre compensation.
The punishment for Zhang rocked Chinese cyberspace. An anonymous netizen from Shanghai wrote on leading gateway website Sina (www.sina.com.cn) that "Zhang was recklessly abusing his power by having police subpoena the reporter," while another netizen said "what Zhang has done has tarnished the image of local government and he deserved the punishment."
Chinese local governments are facing more and more pressure from the public when they make their decisions as the Internet has already become a platform for people to express opinions and press intensify its role of a watchdog.
In another case, the Shaanxi Forestry Department, which announced last October that a rare wild South China Tiger had been spotted, has said sorry for publicizing the photos, but has said nothing about their authenticity on Monday evening.
An embarrassed department apologized to the public in a letter for "curtly publicizing the discovery of the wild South China Tiger" .
The Forestry Department said in the press conference that the tiger was snapped by local farmer Zhou Zhenglong on Oct. 3 near a cliff, and experts have confirmed that it was a young wild South China tiger. The department also gave Zhou 20,000 yuan (2,778 U.S. dollars) as a prize.
But Internet users and some scientists accused Zhou of making the tiger images with digital software, and local authorities of approving the photographs to bolster tourism. The Chinese media has done many reports to prompt the investigation into the authenticity of the photos.
In December, the State Forestry Administration demanded the provincial forestry department have the photos authenticated by a panel of experts, but no results have been published.
Another Internet-related big stir in 2007 was the controversial Xiamen city PX plant, suspended after huge pressure from citizens through Internet and the mass media opposing to the project who said it was polluting and potentially dangerous.
The authorities in Xiamen, in east China's Fujian Province, put a paraxylene (PX) plant project, earmarked for Haicang District 16kilometers from the city center, on hold on May 30 last year.