Official Outed by Netizens Gets 11 Years

Zhou Jiugeng of Jiangsu province has just been sentenced to 11 years in prison for corruption. He was outed from his post in late December, largely due to the netizen uproar over his excessively luxurious lifestyle. From Xinhua:

Zhou Jiugeng, former director of the real estate management bureau in Jiangning District, the provincial capital of Nanjing, was convicted of accepting 1.07 million yuan and 110,000 Hong Kong dollars in bribes from contractors, subordinate businesses and officials.

The Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court also confiscated 1.2 million yuan (175,784 U.S. dollars) of Zhou’s personal property.

The court said the 49-year-old was given lenient punishment for confessing to the prosecutors and handing over the bribes on his own.

A number of officials have shared their thoughts on the role of netizens in official supervision. Excerpted from China Daily:

Liu Binjie, head of the General Administration of Press and Publication, agreed, saying many problems were first exposed on the Internet and then received the government’s attention.

“Internet supervision is playing a very important role in promoting democracy and ensuring the people’s right to know, which should be fully encouraged and supported,” Liu said.

Some scholars, however, expressed worries over whether Internet supervision could work as well as people expected.

Gao Xinmin, a professor with the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said: “The Internet provides a new way for people to supervise officials, but what really matters is that the government listens to their voices and takes action.”

While online manhunts can help fight corruption, they must be properly used or they can infringe on people’s basic human rights, he said.

Read also a report by Jane Macartney at Times Online.

For more background on this story, see this Global Voices post by Bob Chen, “Commissioner Scrutinized by Netizen Detectives.”

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