Biganzi Q&A: Li Xinde Shares Tips of his Trade

Readers of CDT should be well-acquainted by now with Li Xinde. He likes to call himself the “people’s mouthpiece”. Li crisscrosses the country digging up dirt on corrupt cadres, and reports his findings on his Web site, China Public Opinion Surveillance Net (Zhongguo yulun jiandu wang ‰∏≠ÂõΩËàÜËÆ∫ÁõëÁù£ÁΩë) – and on a rotating menu of mirror blogs (e.g., see www.lixinde.com, or click here). He made his big splash in July 2004, when he uploaded evidence of graft schemes that literally brought a vice-mayor in Shandong to his knees. Featured everywhere from the op-ed page of the NYT to the back page of the China Youth Daily’s Freezing Point, Li has since set a standard for Netizen muckraking that few bloggers in China have dared aspire to. His sites are regularly blocked – now, for instance. But some media analysts argue that he may be just another easily co-opted instrument of Communist Party surveillance – given how the center has long turned unauthorized state media exposes akin to his to its political advantage in weeding out grass-roots corruption. Li is, for the record, an avowedly loyal member of the Communist Party. He claims to have had a hand in a big bust that occurred just this week: that of the party secretary of Chenzhou in Hunan province, which was featured in this week’s edition of Southern Weekend. It was foreshadowed by a report Li filed more than a month ago. Li Xinde talked to Biganzi earlier this week at his home in the Beijing satellite town of Tongxian, where he rents a dim walk-up flat with stone floors and a modicum of furniture. A rear-view mirror ornament bearing the mug of Chairman Mao dangles askew from the wall by his desk. When not on the road, the 46-year-old lives here with his ...
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