NANNING, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Government officials and anti-graft experts said they believe encouraging Internet users to submit tips about possible instances of corruption is an effective way to combat the issue.
The experts' comments came after five police officers in Qinzhou, a port city in south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, were put on trial last month for acting as a "protective umbrella" for local gambling venues and collecting "protection fees" from them.
A February post in an online forum for local affairs in Qinzhou revealed that several officers at a local police station took bribes from the illegal casinos and gave them information about possible police raids.
A probe conducted by the local procuratorate in Qinzhou verified the claims in the post, with several suspects arrested after the investigation concluded.
The Internet is acting as a new and important channel for corruption reporting, said Zhao Qiyang, an official from Guangxi's regional discipline inspection agency.
Reporting instances of corruption online has its advantages, said Luo Guo'an, a sociological researcher at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Online whistleblowers can more easily draw public attention while keeping their personal information private, Luo said.
The increased accessibility of Internet service has also made corruption reporting more convenient, Luo said.
However, the experts also mentioned the possibility for libel and defamation.
In February, a netizen in Guangxi, who claimed to be a female middle school student named "He Zizi," accused a county police chief of sexually assaulting and impregnating her.
However, a subsequent investigation showed that there was no such student enrolled at the school mentioned in the accusation. The police chief's reputation and daily life were seriously affected by the incident.
While online corruption reporting can help to strengthen the public's supervision, the spreading of false information online may constitute an obstruction of justice, Zhao said.
While all citizens have the right to express their opinion and supervise the government, those who intentionally libel or defame others should be held liable, Luo said.