Qinhangdao City is in China’s Hebei Province and 300 kilometres / 190 miles east of Beijing on the Yellow Sea. It has a population of close to 3 million people spread out over approximately 500 square kilometres / 200 square miles and like the rest of China is hoping to improve the governance of its citizens.
Unusually for officialdom, Qinhangdao decided to connect with its customer base by actively soliciting complaints against public servants with “undesirable work styles” such as bureaucracy and extravagance. It chose mobile apps Weibo and WeChat for the convenience of citizens constantly on the move, and reports that since August 2014, 20,000 residents used the social media app.
To date, the Qinhuangdao Municipal Discipline Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of China has handled over 300 complaints via the system, and handed 200 cases over for prosecution. Thus far, 30 officials have received punishment for offences ranging from using government cars for private use, to organizing extravagant banquets for family weddings or funerals.
Qinhuangdao Commission Secretary Praises App
As the secretary of the Qinhangdao commission says, “A small mobile phone can help solve a big problem. Every mobile phone is a tool for inquiry and everyone is a supervisor.” The Qinhangdao City initiative is taking place against the broader background of a nationwide anti-corruption program that has seen more than 100,000 officials punished since 2012.
Social media is not the only technology being used to ensure professionalism among officials. In a related move, some judicial bodies are using face recognition machines to monitor employees’ attendance.
“After using the system for some time the rate of employees arriving late at work and leaving early has been reduced a lot,” said an official at Changchun Intermediate People’s Court. I am confident Qinhangdao has experienced something similar, although it is using mobile.