China Turns to Tech to Fight Political Corruption

For some Chinese government officials, joy riding just got a lot less fun. That’s because, in an effort to crack down on officials using vehicles for personal errands, GPS devices are now being added to 439 sweet rides. 

The Commission for Discipline Inspection GPS Control Panel (yes, that’s the commision’s actual name) has been launched in East China’s Zhejiang province by 75 different participating state-run agencies and companies.

“The GPS devices are meant to reduce the use of official cars for personal purposes and to improve the government’s image,” said head of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Songyang committee, Lu Jingtian. Apparently a number of complaints have recently been raised over officials using cars for inappropriate reasons, especially in the drinking-heavy period of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

“If the car speeds or violates traffic rules, an alarm will sound in the central supervision platform of the Party discipline inspection commission, and that will be recorded,” said senior official Liu Zhiyun. “In other words, any of a car’s movements can be monitored.”

Meanwhile, a series of provincial online sites that allow citizens to report corruption among court judges have been linked to one centralized website. Once the complaints are logged, court officials are required to respond to the issue within 10 days. The disciplinary departments of each court must post updates to the website on how exactly they have responded to the complaints, giving citizens the satisfaction of knowing they were heard and responded to.

China’s efforts to beef up technology-based corruption-fighting mechanisms come just as there’s a broader effort on the part of Chinese government officials to improve their public image. Those virtual PR campaigns have been enhanced by social media, and micro-blogs in particular, have been pivotal in that effort.

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[Image by Krokodyl]