Chinese online retailer JD sent a group of employees to visit a Beijing prison on March 20, the company announced through its anti-corruption WeChat account in a post that bears a straightforward title, “Freedom is life’s greatest fortune” (our translation).

A group of JD employees from its public affairs department paid a visit to No.1 Beijing Detention Center to witness in-person the cost of corruption, according to the post.

Prison tours are a common anti-corruption tactic in China, though it is used more often by state or financial institutions, not tech companies. However, this is not JD’s first use of unconventional anti-corruption measures. JD employees were asked to report to the company the details of their spouses, direct relatives, extended relatives by blood within three generations and their spouses, and schoolmates, according to a leaked email that has gone viral on Chinese microblogging platform, Weibo. Though it was billed as a move for transparency in workplace promotions, it was aimed at curbing internal corruption, according to Chinese media.

However, JD’s prison tour holds a difficult irony at its core as the company’s CEO Richard Liu was nearly sent to prison himself following an accusation of rape last year. The charges were later dropped on lack of evidence.

JD did not respond to TechNode’s inquiry on the matter.

One of China’s tech giants, JD has seen its fair share of internal corruption cases. The company revealed 16 corruption cases in August, involving departments ranging from the company’s retail division to finance.

JD is stepping up efforts to boost vitality within the organization amid fierce competition from Alibaba and slowing growth. The company announced that it would be slashing the bottom-performing 10% of its executives by year-end to push internal competition. Two key leaders, CTO Zhang Chen and legal head Long Yu, have left the company within the past two weeks.

Other Chinese tech companies are also speeding up internal investigations to curb corruption. Ride-hailing giant Didi dismissed more than 80 employees last year after its compliance staff found more than 60 cases of internal corruption. Drone maker DJI placed 45 of its employees under investigation for a case that could result in losses totaling as much as RMB 100 billion (around $150 million).

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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