The founder of a Chinese whistleblowing website has refuted claims that his site is China’s answer to WikiLeaks, and has insisted it runs with local government approval.
Ye Zhe, who set up the Wenzhou-based www.703804.com (slang for chit-chat in the local dialect) in 2003, rejects his site being labelled as the ‘Chinese version of WikiLeaks’, saying that the two sites couldn’t have more different goals.
"The fundamental value of the 703 website is totally different from that of WikiLeaks. We just provide a platform for the public to discuss issues freely, and we do not aim to disclose secret government documents," Ye told China’s Global Times.
The site, which has already led to the dismissal of at least five officials, is said to be so influential that many Wenzhou city officials with guilty consciences trawl the site each day for career-ending allegations against them.
And yet the Wenzhou city government still allows it to operate.
Ye said that after repeated attempts to bring the site down in 2005, he and the local government have since reached an accord. Spookily enough the site was down this morning.
From 2006, local network supervision authorities have allowed the site to operate with minimal interference - so long as it focuses on the misdemeanors of low ranking officials and not those of the mayor or other high ranking officials, potentially allowing more serious claims of corruption to go unreported.
Visitors are also required to register on the site before being allowed to post anything, and there’s little doubt these details are constantly monitored by the government.
Despite this, Ye hopes the site will encourage better relations between an increasingly vocal public and the government.
“Helping netizens with problems will build up the trust between the government, police and the forum,” he told the state-run China Daily.
"We regard the process of changes as the growing up of both the website and the government," he said.