China petition site crashes after flood of complaints

China Featured - July 3rd, 2013

China has launched a website where citizens may raise their public grievances, a move intended to curb the wave of petitioners who flood into Beijing.

The website launched by the State Bureau of Letters and Calls Monday will help “broaden the channels” for public opinion, reports South China Morning Post.

Bureau chief Shu Xiaoqin said the move was “an effort to improve the bureau’s credibility,” Chinese media quoted her as saying.

But some rights activists were skeptical of the effectiveness of the website, while petitioners fear the online platform would expose them and see them face retribution from local officials.

Petitioners from across the country often take their grievances – ranging from land disputes to employment violations to unsolved crimes – to the Chinese capital, with some intercepted by local authorities and detained illegally in “black jails”.

“Their problems cannot be solved even through face-to-face dialogue,” said Yuan Yulai, a prominent rights lawyer. “Their problems would be much more easily fixed if the country had a legal system that could earn the people’s trust.”

The website reportedly crashed on the first day, state media reported, amid speculation that the sheer number of petitioners had overwhelmed the server.