China's anti-corruption chief He Guoqiang Thursday urged authorities to utilize the public's online comments and postings in the country's ongoing attempt to fight corruption.
He, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said channels should be expanded to solicit public opinions and efforts be made to give full play to the positive role that the Internet has had in the fight against corruption.
"He's remarks showed the unprecedented resolute determination of the CPC to fight corruption, and it will lead to powerful practice," said Ye Duchu, a senior professor with the Central Party School.
"The top officials of the CPC have realized that online opinion is a weapon to curb graft, but it is a tough decision for them to make as the Party had been very cautious about handling information against a Party member," Ye said.
China now has about 350 million Internet users, people who go to the Internet at least once in six months. More than half - some 182 million people - have their own blogs. Nearly all the major websites have chatrooms for netizens to discuss social trends and phenomena.
The netizens' latest success in the anti-corruption fight came in September, in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province.
Zhou Jiugeng, the former director of the real estate management bureau of Nanjing's Jiangning district, was sentenced to 11 years in jail, with 1.2 million yuan ($175,000) of personal property confiscated, after netizens last year posted photos online of him smoking expensive cigarettes, sporting a Vacheron Constantin watch worth about 100,000 yuan and driving a Cadillac.
Early this month, an entrepreneur named Shangguan Hongxiang from Fuxin, a city in Northeast China's Liaoning province, posted several messages online, accusing Yu Yang, a local senior judiciary official, of taking drugs and having group sex.
The accusation caused heated discussion. Hundreds of netizens called for an investigation.
On Oct 30, the CCDI and the Ministry of Supervision launched a website www.12388.gov.cn to receive online comments. The website was so popular during its first day of operation that it crashed several times due to heavy usage.
"Online supervision plays a sharp role in exposing corrupt officials. Meanwhile, it warns others and is vital in setting a proper tone for public opinion," a netizen named "justice" said on sina.com.
Although the CPC is showing drastic efforts to curb corruption, there is still concern from the public.
An online survey carried by the Beijing News early this month reported that 57 percent of respondents said they would report the misdeeds or clues of corruption online. But nearly half said they would only make anonymous postings as they are frightened that the people they are indicting online would find out who they are and enact revenge.
"It is natural that people have this kind of concern, especially when they are reporting the ones who have a lot of power, but the CPC will definitely address this issue, to better protect informers," Ye said.
"Anyway, adopting online reporting can largely curb corruption, and experience will tell us how to improve on this path," he said.