Micro-bloggers essential in trackling abuses of power, experts suggest
The online clout of netizens has become a vital weapon in fighting abuses of power and ensuring greater transparency, government insiders and experts said.
With more than 300 million bloggers, micro-bloggers and forum users sharing information every minute, officials now face a greater level of scrutiny than ever before.
Facing the spotlight are Yang Dacai, a work safety official under fire for his taste in expensive watches, and Fang Daguo, a political commissar who is alleged to have attacked a flight attendant.
Micro blogs provide a "much-needed channel for the public to engage in supervision", said Liu Huawen, an associate researcher in international law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
A senior Party discipline official in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, also said that online platforms had increased pressure on departments to perform.
"Supervising (government power) and combating corruption on the Internet is a trend in our society's development," said the official, who declined to give his name.
The power of these Internet channels means people expect more from the way we discipline authorities, the official said.
The Zhongshan discipline commission is one of 50,000 government agencies with an account on Sina Weibo. Since the account was opened in December 2010, it has posted information 1,300 times and gained 40,000 followers.
According to the official, the commission uses the micro blog to inform, educate, investigate, supervise and serve. But netizens focus mostly on supervising, investigation and whistle-blowing through micro blogs, the official said.
"It's not a one-on-one communication, everyone can follow the development. The communication is effective and it involves so many people.''
Yang Dacai, director of work safety for Shaanxi province, first came to the attention of netizens when he was pictured smiling at the scene of a fatal traffic accident on Aug 26.
Since then, images of him wearing a selection of 11 expensive watches, customized glasses and bracelets have emerged.
Micro-bloggers identified the watch brands, models and prices.
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