Concealing Corruption: How Chinese Officials Distort Upward Reporting of Online Grievances

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Authors Jennifer Pan, Kaiping Chen
Paper Category
Paper Abstract A prerequisite for the durability of authoritarian regimes as well as their effective governance is the regime’s ability to gather reliable information about the actions of lower-tier officials. Allowing public participation in the form of online complaints is one approach authoritarian regimes have taken to improve monitoring of lower-tier officials. In this paper, we gain rare access to internal communications between a monitoring agency and upper-level officials in China. We show that citizen grievances posted publicly online that contain complaints of corruption are systematically concealed from upper-level authorities when they implicate lower-tier officials or associates connected to lower-tier officials through patronage ties. Information manipulation occurs primarily through omission of wrongdoing rather than censorship or falsification, suggesting that even in the digital age, in a highly determined and capable regime where reports of corruption are actively and publicly voiced, monitoring the behavior of regime agents remains a challenge.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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