Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chen Hong by CHI-CHI ZHANG

BEIJING - Fed up with the endless payoffs and bribes endemic in China, public relations consultant Chen Hong ripped off an idea from India: set up a website to let people post anonymous tips on official bribery. It proved wildly popular - and short-lived. Chen's website - - drew 200,000 unique visitors in two weeks. Its anonymous posts wrote about bribing everybody: officials who demanded luxury cars and villas to police officers who needed inducements not to issue traffic tickets. Some outed doctors receiving cash under the table to ensure safe surgical procedures. Mainstream media spread word about the site, amplifying the outrage among netizens. Then, the censors stepped in, Chen said, blocking access to the site for people inside China. Worried that he was risking trouble, the 28-year-old Chen shut down his site over the weekend. "Bribery has just become a way of life in China and everyone is affected," said the fast-talking Chen, who owns his own online public relations consulting company. He thought the site would help the government by giving people a forum to vent: "I didn't want the site to be perceived as a threat, but more to help them solve problems that already exist." - CHI-CHI ZHANG

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