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China Focus: Social media encouraging corruption whistleblowing

(Xinhua)    19:45, May 09, 2015

BEIJING, May 8 -- China's use of social media to encourage public tip-offs about corrupt or unprofessional official practice is gaining steam.

In Qinhangdao City of north China's Hebei Province, more than 20,000 citizens have used an app launched in August which enables them to report officials' "undesirable work styles" such as bureaucracy and extravagance to the city's discipline watchdog.

Discipline staff have received more than 300 complaints via the app, said an official with the Qinhuangdao Municipal Discipline Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Authorities have handled over 200 of the cases, punishing 30 officials for offences ranging from driving government cars for personal affairs to organizing extravagant banquets for family weddings or funerals.

"A small mobile phone can help solve a big problem. Every mobile phone is a tool for inquiry and everyone is a supervisor," said Hao Zhanmin, secretary of the commission.

Since late 2012, the new Chinese leadership has launched campaigns against corruption and misconduct among officials. More than 100,000 officials have been punished.

With an increasing number of smartphone users, WeChat and Weibo, both instant messaging services popular in China, have made it easier for the public to expose violators to authorities.

The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection launched its own mobile application in January.

Whistleblowing channels like apps and WeChat or Weibo platforms have also been adopted among discipline inspection bodies in Beijing municipality as well as Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.

Beijing's discipline inspection watchdog recently opened a WeChat account, publicizing the contact details for six inspection teams.

Social media is not the only technology being used to ensure professionalism among officials. Some judicial bodies have adopted face recognition machines to monitor employees' attendance, in order to curb laziness at workplace.

"After using the system for some time, the phenomena of arriving at work late and leaving early have been reduced a lot," said Wang Guorui, an official with the Changchun Intermediate People's Court in northeast China's Jilin Province.

The CPC is keeping pace with the times to explore new technological means to help fight corruption or bureaucracy, said Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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