Microblog Helps Chinese Reporter Fight Corruption

By Rona Rui, Epoch Times
December 28, 2010 Updated: December 28, 2010

Microblogs, online tools for sending succinct instant messages to the world, have become a useful tool for Chinese journalists to fight censorship.

On Dec. 21, Xinxiang News reporter Yi Mosan published an investigative report on his microblog about corruption in the bidding process of China's National High Speed Railway project.

The Shanghai-Kunming high speed rail after construction will be one of the eight major railway links in China and the second longest high speed rail in China. It starts in Shanghai and ends in Kunming city in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, stretching 1,284 miles (2,066 km), with an average speed of 217 miles per hour (350 km/h).

According to Yi, the probity in the bidding process of the construction project in central China’s Hunan Province was compromised. Two raw material suppliers, whose tender offers were illegitimate, won several contracts totaling over 40 million yuan (US$6 million).

Yi wrote in his microblog that he had repeatedly alerted the railway authorities; they told him that he was not qualified to report on the matter.

One day after Yi made his investigation public, he received a phone call from his boss threatening to fire him. “The director was angry, and asked me to delete my report,” Yi said in a follow up message. He added it is very possible that pressure was applied from higher up.

Yi’s message has since been widely spread on the Internet by other journalists and his friends, and was soon reported by various major Chinese media.

According to a Dec. 23 National Business Daily report, the railway authorities confirmed that they are now investigating the two companies and their bids.

Yi has now left Xinxiang News: he refused to delete his report and had to leave as a consequence, he said in another microblog update. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Wu Qing, said to Radio Free Asia (RFA) that it happened a bit differently: Yi left because “he had a different understanding than management had about news reporting.”

Zan Aizong, a former reporter from Ocean Daily, commented in a separate RFA interview that journalists in China are often suppressed by the regime and others in power. Because there are no organizations that help protect the rights of news workers, the Internet has become their primary networking platform and SOS beacon.

The efficacy of microblogs is far enhanced in the Chinese language, compared to English, because of the compact nature of the Chinese script. Each message in a microblog is limited to a certain number of characters (often around 140); and each Chinese character, if written in English would require multiple letters, meaning that each message on a microblog in Chinese can transmit a great deal of information.

Read the original Chinese article. http://epochtimes.com/gb/10/12/24/n3122327.htm