Netizens push Chinese authorities to improve transparency

13:12, December 31, 2009      

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An on-line post describing a high level local prosecutor in a poor region driving a luxury car, has become one of the latest Internet hits.

The post, appearing on-line in late November, said the chief prosecutor Liu Lijie of Arun Banner of northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, drove a Volkswagen Touareg SUV, valued at 780,000 yuan (114,700 U.S. dollars), to work every day.

Later, another post showed the picture of the chief prosecutor's luxurious office building.

Both posts attracted attention of the local disciplinary watchdog.

Though Liu's procuratorate earlier announced that the Internet posts were "libel", the disciplinary watchdog found out after thorough investigation that she borrowed the SUV from an enterprise, which violated official rules.

Liu received Party and administrative punishment and resigned on Dec. 20.

Liu's case was the latest example of on-line exposure of corruption that has provided clues for a disciplinary watchdog's investigation.

Such means of fighting corruption have become more and more popular since the World Wide Web started to be used in China 15 years ago.

Currently, the country has more than 338 million netizens.

Several landmark cases have made headlines on and off-line this year.

Zhou Jiugeng, former director of the real estate management bureau of Jiangning District of Nanjing, was sentenced to 11 years in jail in October for taking more than one million yuan in bribes.

He never expected to see photos, showing him wearing a 100,000-yuan Vacheron Constant in watch, smoking a 150-yuan-per-pack cigarette and driving a Cadillac, on the Internet which turned public opinion again him.

Some people commented on-line that his lifestyle was so luxurious that Zhou couldn't possibly afford it just on his salary, suggesting the official must have taken bribes.

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