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Chinese Officials' Africa Jaunt Exposed by "Netizen" Video

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, February 26 2009

China Digital Times » Official Sacked for Overseas Trip, with Netizens’ ReactionsBack in 2007, it seems, officials in China's Guangdong province took a two-week jaunt from South Africa to Dubai that they're only now paying for -- in more ways than one. After one "netizen" -- as the Chinese press is fond of calling online activists -- posted a 17-minute video of the spirited escapade (set, naturally, to Lil' Jon & the East Side Boyz' crunk classic "Get Low") the officials were forced to pay back public coffers for the trip. The trip's leader has also been removed from his post.

The AFP reports that netizens are using the Internet to upend the balance of power in China:

[W]ithout an independent media or judicial system, corrupt cadres have often been able to act with impunity. In recent years, though, the Internet has emerged as a powerful tool for ordinary Chinese to expose their corrupt rulers.

Stories like this are appealing, no doubt. But China expert Rebecca MacKinnon has been cautioning that the Internet doesn't dictate that the arc of China's future will bend towards openness. Keep an eye on MacKinnon's RConversation blog for a deep look the ongoing dance between Chinese civil society and the Internet.