Crooked Officials and Sex Scandals Top List of Online Chinese Complaints

Often, corrupt officials are involved in sexual improprieties, making the No. 1 and No. 2 complaints one and the same thing

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FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images

A man surfs the internet in Beijing

A survey of cases in which Chinese vented their anger online over various scandals found that official malfeasance and sexual impropriety occupied the vast majority of their complaints.

The Opinion Monitoring Center of Legal Daily, a government-owned newspaper, researched the complaints made last year by so-called real-name users of Chinese social media — posters whose formalized status means they are considered more creditable sources. Of those cases, nearly 77% involved alleged economic impropriety by government officials. Of those accused bureaucrats, 22.7% of them were involved in sex scandals.

Those doing the tattling knew what they were talking about: 15.4% of these real-name whistleblowers said they were, in fact, former mistresses of government officials. “Emotional rupture” was the main reason they came forward to implicate their onetime lovers.

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China’s President Xi Jinping has initiated a major anti-corruption campaign. On September 2, the Supervision Department of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party (CCDI) launched an online platform for the public to report incidents of official corruption. The CCDI has received more than 24,000 reports in the past month—a rate of 800 complaints a day.

But Xi’s anti-graft effort comes at the same time that his government has unleashed another campaign to clamp down on what it regards as a dangerous culture of online rumor-mongering. The goal is to create what the Chinese government calls a “green, healthy and civilized” online atmosphere in which, presumably, stray gossip about errant officials doesn’t incite social instability.

So what does this mean for the real-name whistleblowers who have spoken up online? According to Legal Daily, more than 20% of those people who complained online last year using their true names were detained or are wanted by the police for fabricating rumors or provoking trouble. And there’s no assurance of any solution to their grievances, either. By the end of September, close to 30% of the 2012 online reported cases had received either no response or resolution from the government.

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