China's Supreme Court removes link to 'judges only' e-shopping website
An e-shopping website dubbed China’s “Amazon for judges” has been taken down after the nation’s highest court issued a statement denying being affiliated with it.
The China Courts Shopping Network website could not be accessed on Thursday, two days after Chinacourt.org, a website of the Supreme People’s Court, carried a statement saying it removed a link to the e-shopping website to “prevent further misunderstanding”.
The website offered discounted products from pots to smartphones to court officials, who had to register with their real name and work unit, raising concerns over possible corruption. In 2011, the website also offered discounts on cars, the People’s Court Daily, the court’s own publication, said at the time.
In its statement on Tuesday, the court said the website could offer products below market price, because it was a Groupon-like group buying website hedging on bulk acquisitions. The court said it only provided a free link on its website and had no affiliation with the operator of the website.
Law practitioners were quick to raise questions over whether the website was as harmless as the court said. The court should “talk logically”, Chun Fengzhu, a law lecturer at Hunan University in Changsha, wrote in a microblog post. “I will set up a China Courts Corruption Network…” he quipped.
“This website has engaged in disguised bribery to the courts,” Hong Daode, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Beijing News on Thursday. “The court’s relevant responsible person should be held accountable,” Hong said.
The company which operated the website, Beijing XD-Union Technology, also runs similar sites for employees of China’s largest oil refinery China Petrochemical Corp and the state-owned, China Metallurgical Group.
An employee reached by phone at the company on Thursday declined to comment.