Chinese netizens are managing to do what the authorities including the police, state security apparatus and the ruling communist party’s internal disciplinary bodies cannot or will not do – expose corruption.
In what is becoming a regular and hopefully growing trend Chinese officials have been forced to launch an investigation after microbloggers uncovered another high ranking official with millions of dollar in property and assets.
Quoting state media, wire service AFP, said the Southern Guangzhou city will investigate urban management official Cai Bin, 56, who has 21 homes valued at 40 million yuan ($6.4 million), Xinhua news agency reported.
Cai, who earns about 10,000 yuan a month, failed to report all his holdings as required by the state, the report said.
Nothing as to how this vast wealth was obtained by a man on such a modest salary. Perhaps it a case of putting a little aside each month and watching how quickly it builds up; alternately Cai is a corrupt, thieving villain who deserves everything coming to him. It is a matter for the courts to decide. But one thing is certain – it will not be swept under the carpet.
AFP said, “The scandal emerged after web users began posting pictures of Cai’s properties, some of which are luxury homes, onto the Sina Weibo social networking site.
“It is basically true that Cai has 21 houses according to our preliminary investigations,” Xinhua quoted a government official responsible for the investigation as saying.
Chinese government officials are widely considered to be corrupt among Chinese, who have recently been raising pressure on them by posting accusations on popular social networking websites.
One official in southeastern Fujian province created an online furore this week after users on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog, accused him of censoring a newspaper report alleging he owned a luxury watch and belt.
And Yang Dacai, an official in the central province of Shaanxi, was sacked last month after Weibo users posted photographs showing him wearing expensive watches — five of which were said to be worth a total of more than 300,000 yuan.
China’s leaders have repeatedly declared official corruption and abuse of power as a major threat to the legitimacy of their rule, but the problem remains deeply entrenched despite numerous crackdowns.
The ruling Communist Party has sought to draw attention to its efforts to combat corruption ahead of a party congress next month, when a once-a-decade leadership transition will be announced.
While China’s 538 million Internet users are able to use microblogs to accuse local officials of corruption, posts making reference to China’s most powerful politicians are regularly deleted by online censors.
While he was not uncovered by bloggers, the country’s most high-profile corruption case in years saw the former chief of Chongqing city, Bo Xilai, expelled from the ruling Communist Party last month for a series of alleged crimes and corrupt activities.
His wife was given a suspended death sentence in August for murdering a British businessman.