The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 08/26/2013 12:55 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 08/26/2013 1:24 AM
BEIJING, China - Police have detained a Chinese-American venture capitalist on suspicion of visiting a prostitute in Beijing as authorities crack down on bloggers who have posted sensitive material on China's already heavily restricted Internet.
Charles Xue, who has over 12 million followers on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, was detained on Friday evening in a Beijing neighbourhood along with a woman, according to police and state media on Sunday.
The naturalized American citizen regularly reposts reform-minded content and makes comments on other issues including China's air quality and food safety.
The People's Daily on Monday reminded the country's "big Vs" — popular bloggers whose social media profiles are verified as genuine — that they "should be careful what information they convey ... and use their right to expression responsibly."
Many famous Chinese, from pop stars to business tycoons, have amassed huge followings on social media and at times post material that the government doesn't like, such as calling attention to social injustices and questioning government policies. This month, Internet censors called popular microbloggers to meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including keeping social order, in a move observers have said has a chilling effect on public discourse.
State media have also accused some microbloggers of undermining socialism and promoting Western values through lies and negative news.
Xue's celebrity name, Xue Manzi, shot to the top of the most-searched for terms after his detention was announced.
Among those questioning the motive behind the arrest was the editor of the state-run Global Times newspaper. "Cannot rule out the possibility that authorities are arresting Xue Manzi with a prostitute to give him a hard time," Hu Xijin wrote Sunday in a blog posting that later disappeared.
Referring to Xue, Beijing police announced on their microblog Sunday that a 60-year-old man with the surname Xue had been detained Friday and confessed to visiting a prostitute. It said he had been detained in a Beijing neighbourhood along with a 22-year-old woman who had confessed to prostitution.
Xue's arrest follows a string in recent days of people who triggered scandals online.
On Friday, police detained Liu Hu, an investigative reporter of the Guangzhou-based New Express, who alleged on his microblog that a senior government official was negligent with his public duties. Liu has been arrested on suspicion of fabricating and spreading rumours and the case is being investigated, according to the Beijing police's microblog.
Also detained is a blogger who some call "watch brother" for initiating a campaign against an official who wore expensive watches that he wouldn't have been able to afford on his salary. Zhou Lubao has been arrested on suspicion of extortion, the Ministry of Public Security said Sunday.
Blogger and former journalist Zhu Ruifeng said the detentions were in response to the huge influence some commentators were gaining online, and the fact that more and more netizens were denouncing officials via social media.
Zhu himself triggered a scandal last year when he released online a video of an official having sex with a woman hired by property developers allegedly in an elaborate extortion scheme.
Zhu said Xue's name was all over state media and intended to damage his reputation, showing that the government was serious about controlling online opinion-formers.
AP's Isolda Morillo in Beijing contributed to this report.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed
Police looking for suspect in St. James sexual assault
Shop in The Forks involved in poached pickerel sting "above board," owner insists
RightsFest to mark opening of human rights museum
'Dry' rural community discovers it's wet
Primary gas rate to go down slightly in August
Sweetland wins Canada's first medal
Cat at large with head stuck in bird feeder
Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands
New tenancy laws will overhaul both renter and landlord rights
116 on lost flight includes 5 Canadians: official
Conspiracy theories abound in Russia
AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto
Fringe continues record-setting pace
Girl's death a homicide: RCMP
Live Fringe Fest performances and interviews at News Café all week
Suspects in Stradivarius theft due in court
Injured Mounties thank public for support
Ukrainian prime minister announces resignation
Bronze urn located, to be returned to Buddhist temple
The reign of Jane
Sneak peek: Preview the new Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album
Winpak posts profit
Time to turf police turf war
New website to list municipal elections results for Manitobans
Israel swears in new president amid Gaza war
Court: Poland violated human rights in CIA case
Flash flooding overwhelms Kamloops, B.C.
Man run over by own truck during road rage
Onerous bail practices rapped
Grand Canyon urges visitors to stay away from bats
Fukushima study: Think about unthinkable disasters
Get paid for posts? Social networking's new twist
False killer whale calf making progress
Baldwin, LaBeouf share a role - defendant - in NYC
Hockey Manitoba still doesn't get the message
Analysis: Culture of secrecy allows repeated shameful tragedies
Poached pickerel seized at The Forks
Blue Bombers name press box in honour of two prominent sports journalists
Winnipeg to get direct flight to Mexican resort town Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo