China 'to protect whistle-blowers' amid corruption fight

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This picture taken on 24 September 2013 shows Chinese 100 yuan (RMB) bank notes being counted at a bank in Huaibei, in eastern China's Anhui provinceImage source, AFP
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China has embarked on an anti-corruption drive since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012

Chinese authorities say whistle-blowers will be protected, amid an ongoing crackdown on corruption.

China's top prosecuting body said it has, for the first time, laid out rights for those exposing malpractice.

It urged citizens to file reports in a "lawful manner" via official channels and promised a quick response.

China's President Xi Jinping has prioritised stamping out corruption in the Communist Party and government since he took office in 2012.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says the fact that the authorities are trying to reassure the public in this fashion highlights the reluctance many whistle-blowers have about coming forward.

Those reporting official wrongdoing and corruption sometimes face violent reprisals, says our correspondent.

Protection plan

The Supreme Court Procuratorate said in a statement that it had "for the first time clarified the rights that whistle-blowers enjoy", including the right to protection and rewards.

"After receiving a report from someone who provides his real name, the procuratorate should do a risk assessment and must, in a timely manner, implement a protection plan and prevent reprisals on the whistle-blower," it said.

The prosecuting body also encouraged citizens to file reports via a telephone hotline and website recently set up by the government.

"Whistle-blowers should file their reports in a lawful manner, and cannot deliberately twist the truth, falsify evidence and cause people harm," it said.

China does not give legal protection to those who make allegations outside official channels.

Correspondents say that while the authorities may want to tackle corruption, they remain wary about giving up too much control.

Since the latest anti-corruption campaign began, several bloggers who have posted their allegations online have been harassed and beaten.

Reuters reported that blogger Li Jianxin was stabbed in the face in July, blinding him in his right eye, by two unidentified men who also splashed acid on his back.

Li had posted accusations of official misconduct in Huizhou city in Guangdong province.

Earlier this month, an investigative journalist who reported on a state-controlled construction equipment maker was jailed for defamation and bribery.