China’s new nationwide anti-corruption hotline mentioned earlier is off to a good start. Too good, in fact. During the first week more than 11,000 calls jammed the phones. The China Daily said only one in five calls connected to the hotline because its ten operators were overwhelmed. Six thousand more online submissions crashed the website.
The site was designed to handle 1,000 visitors at a time; the government now plans to double the bandwidth. Callers to the phone line could also leave voicemails; 457 whistleblowers did that on the first day. The hotline is now available from 22 of China’s 31 provinces and will be expanded to cover the entire country.
The 24-hour number is (0086-10) 12309 and the web address is www.12309.gov.cn.
An annual report from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate released in March this year said 41,179 government workers were investigated in 33,546 cases in 2008, resulting in 33,953 prosecutions. Caveat: We report China’s anti-corruption stats but we don’t vouch for them.
Whatever the numbers, public participation in the country’s clean-up campaign is something new and important. Why now? Earlier this year, President Hu Jintao again warned leaders that corruption within the ruling Communist Party is the greatest threat to its legitimacy.
Although the new hotline is intended for complaints about public graft, we’re wondering if any Western investors will also find themselves snared through whistleblower tips?
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The weird drama of the political off-season has inspired some terrific prose. This is from Slate’s Bruce Reed:
Like [South Carolina Gov. Mark] Sanford’s fatal press conference, [Gov. Sarah] Palin’s bitter statement reads like a cry for help – an all-caps plea for someone to rescue her from the messy business of running Alaska. She passes up running for re-election because she doesn’t need a title “to HELP people,” then says she’ll pack it in altogether rather than “milk” her lame duck status by traveling to the Lower 48. Like Sanford, Palin snuck away to visit a distant land and fell in love with a siren she cannot bring home or leave behind. Her fatal attraction was the national spotlight.