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China: Local Gov'ts Combat 'Corruption on Wheels'
Source: http://www.news.cn/
Source Date: Sunday, November 24, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, Journals, Knowledge Management in Government, Internet Governance
Country: China
Created: Nov 26, 2013

Clear labeling of government cars so that the public can easily identify them and spot their misuse has become a trendy practice among China's local authorities in response to the country's anti-corruption drive.

Chen Xiaoming, deputy director of Yongsheng County Publicity Department of Lijiang City in southwest China's Yunnan Province, posted photos of an official car painted with "No private use of government vehicles" and a hotline telephone number for public complaints on Sina Weibo under verified user account "Biantunliying."

"Yongsheng County will complete the labeling of government cars by Nov. 30," he wrote on the Twitter-like publishing platform alongside the photos. The post was shared more than 3,700 times in less than three days last week.

Though it can't shake accusations of being a publicity stunt, the action has nevertheless been well-received and lauded by most netizens.

"The practice should be promoted nationwide," replied a Weibo user with the screen name "Iron Man."

"Writer Cuichenghao," a popular online satirist who has 1.64 million followers on Weibo, reposted the images under the headline "Breaking news!"

Chen was surprised by the enormous online buzz, as he told Xinhua that the initiative was designed simply to meet requirements from the city and provincial governments on reorganizing official vehicles.

A package of rules issued last December by China's leadership aiming to cut excessive spending of public funds has refreshed the country's politics, with decreasing misuse of official vehicles being one of the most prominent changes.

However, the Communist Party of China (CPC) disciplinary watchdog circulated a notice in mid-November citing 4,851 cases involving private use of government cars by officials. They accounted for one-third of recorded violations of China's frugality guidelines.

Yongsheng County's Chen is not alone in trying to correct this, however. In Qujing City, also in Yunnan Province, stickers saying "Official cars not for private use" and listing an informants' hotline number have been stuck to the windshields of official vehicles since April 2012.

"A government car used to have two keys -- one for the chauffeur and one for the leader," said Wang Liping, head of Qujing's CPC discipline inspection commission.

"With such a 'name card,' however, officials would find it inconvenient to drive government cars for shopping, traveling or visiting friends," Wang said.

The practice is shared by the government of Sihong County in east China's Jiangsu Province. All official cars in Sihong have displayed an oval "name card" in the top-right corner of their windshields since June.

Others have used more sophisticated measures. In Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, GPS technology and a user identification system were adopted two years ago to curb rampant private use of government cars.

The practice saved 40 million yuan of government funds in 2012, according to the municipal discipline inspection commission.

Another 400 government vehicles in Qitai County of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been under round-the-clock monitoring via GPS devices installed in the cars.

The vehicle's condition, location, movements and mileage are clear from a glance in the supervision center.

Government spending on official vehicles, overseas trips and receptions are the "three guzzlers" of public funds that are most likely to spark public outrage if used improperly.

"Labeling of official vehicles invites public supervision, which is an effective supplement to the original error correction system," said Li Jincan, research fellow with the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.

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