Disciplinary authorities in Chongqing confirmed Friday that the man in a sex video leaked by a microblogger was Lei Zhengfu, Party chief of the municipality's Beibei district. Lei has been dismissed from his position and a graft investigation has been launched, demonstrating an unusually quick, comprehensive victory for Weibo in anti-corruption.
Ji Xuguang, the microblogger who uploaded the video to his verified Weibo account, claims to be an investigative journalist. This differs from most cases in which most sources insist on anonymity. Chongqing authorities' rapid response also marks change - in previous cases authorities usually hesitated about acting on online claims of corrupt officials. Ji's complete victory could become a milestone in China's reform under the pressure of public opinion.
In recent years, China's disciplinary authorities at various levels have ferreted out many corrupt officials. But anti-corruption efforts through evidence provided by microbloggers have been especially impressive. Weibo's pressure on official ecology is unprecedented, since microblogging represents ubiquitous public supervision.
This is a rare, and somehow unexpected, opportunity for China's fight against corruption, but it is certainly not without problems.
One important reason for the prominent role of Weibo is that normal channels of supervision are often obstructed. After all, Weibo is not a mechanized platform and often appears emotional. It is risky if Weibo becomes the major battleground to tackle corruption.
We must protect Weibo's independence and vigor in anti-corruption. But the competence of normal supervision mechanisms should be boosted. In fact, the number of anti-corruption cases disclosed by disciplinary authorities is much bigger. But lacking transparency has undermined their public credibility.
By comparison, the thorough transparency of Weibo anti-corruption and several successful cases have consolidated this online channel's public credibility. Such imbalance will in no way facilitate China's rule of law.
Corruption disclosure through Weibo should be gradually regulated. Rumormongers should be punished and the public should be able to discern and denounce rumors. Without regulation, some may use online supervision as a camouflage to serve their own interests.
Weibo anti-corruption is becoming successful due to authorities' active response.
In the future, Weibo supervision should have more interaction with official channels. It should help bring about clean governance and national progress, rather than create division and undermine social cohesion. Needless to say, authorities must catch up and follow closely in this process, lest they appear passive.