Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Following Past Practice, Baidu Allows Discussion of Corrupt Official - After He Is Sentenced

On June 12, 2015, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Chinese Applaud Anticorruption Progress as Zhou Yongkang in Jail.” Some excerpts:
Chinese public have praised the country's anticorruption campaign and the leadership's commitment to the rule of law as Zhou Yongkang, a former elite Party official, was sentenced to life in prison for graft charges Thursday. 
A court sentenced Zhou to life imprisonment for accepting bribes, abusing his power and deliberately disclosing state secrets. 
He was convicted of accepting bribes of about 130 million yuan (21.3 million US dollars) and instructing Jiang Jiemin and Li Chuncheng, also senior officials, to assist in the business activities of others, helping them to illegally obtain about 2.14 billion yuan and causing losses to the state of 1.49 billion yuan. 
Zhou also leaked five "extremely confidential" documents and one "confidential" document to an unauthorized person, directly contravening the State Secrets Law.
These screenshots show that, when a user did a search on Baidu PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) for “Zhou Yongkang” (周永康) on June 12, 2015 they were told “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this forum may not be opened at this time.” The following day, Baidu had allowed users to create and post to a “Zhou Yongkang” forum.

Similarly, on July 1, 2014, the Global Times published an editorial entitled “Xu’s Expulsion Signals Cleaner, Stronger Army.” Some excerpts:
The expulsion of Xu Caihou from the CPC was hailed around the country. Xu, former military leader and member of the political bureau of the CPC Central Committee, was charged with corruption and position-selling.
. . . .
Before his expulsion was officially announced, speculations about Xu's "problems" had been circulating online for a while. But it was still an astonishing piece of news when the official announcement was made one day before the CPC's 93th birthday. It is possible that the top leadership is trying to send a signal to the public, pointing out the severity of corruption and showcasing the "zero-tolerance" determination and confidence to fight corruption.  
Besides, making Xu's case headlines on July 1 also shows that there are no barriers that can obstruct the anti-graft efforts.
These screenshots show that, some time shortly after July 1, Baidu decided it was no longer a violation of “relevant laws, regulations, and policies” to allow its users to open a forum dedicated to discussion of Xu Caihou (徐才厚).