Dark Days for China’s Whistleblowers

At a clean governance conference yesterday, Wen Jiabao emphasized the government’s stance against corruption. From Xinhua:

Wen said any construction of new government buildings, training centers and government hotels were banned between now and the end of 2010.

[…]Reception expenditures this year should be reduced by 10 percent over 2008, car purchase and maintenance fees should be cut by 15 percent on the basis of the average amount in the recent three years, and expenditure for business trips abroad reduced by 20 percent based on the average amount over the recent three years.

Wen said, this year efforts will be focused on investigation and handling of corruption cases involving government organs and officials, and hard strike will be given to “collusion between officials and businesses, power-for-money deals and commercial bribery cases.”

He urged officials to discipline themselves and “resolutely oppose bureaucratism and formalism.”

While Wen and others have expressed concern for the extent of official graft, the treatment of whistleblowers remains harsh. Wu Zhong of Asia Times reports:

Fear of retribution is a major concern for whistleblowers. “Nine of the top 10 anti-graft fighters in the past three decades have faced retaliation,” He Zengke, director of the Institute of Contemporary Marxism under the CCP’s Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, told China Youth Daily. He did not give details on who the top 10 anti-graft fighters were, or what retribution had been meted out to them, but there are plenty of cases of informants being killed, jailed or attacked after tipping off the authorities.

In May 2002, Li Wenjuan, a civil servant with Anshan Office of State Revenue in Liaoning province, reported suspected irregularities in tax collection and accounting to the party’s Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI) – the party’s top anti-graft watchdog – and the General Administration of Taxation. After the taxation office sent an investigation team to Anshan, Li was first removed to a local branch and then one year later fired, though after the CCDI’s intervention she was re-instated.

However, in September 2004, Li was sacked again after she was arrested by Anshan police and sent to a “education through labor” camp on charges of “slandering” an official on the Internet. She was released after two years and has said she “would not dare” to report corruption again.

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