News / Asia

China Arrests Journalist Amid Crackdown on Rumors

Reuters
A Chinese investigative journalist who has accused officials of corruption has been arrested, his lawyer said on Thursday, becoming the latest in a series of government critics to be swept up in Beijing's crackdown on rumors.

Liu Hu, a reporter with the Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, was arrested on a charge of defamation on Sept. 30, said his lawyer, Zhou Ze. Liu had been detained in late August in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing on suspicion of “fabricating and spreading rumors.”

China's crackdown on online “rumor-mongering,” widely seen as a tool to halt criticism of the ruling Communist Party, has chilled political discourse, with high-profile bloggers saying they have reined in sensitive postings for fear of detention.

Lawyers and activists called the crackdown a significant, if crude, expansion of powers to police the Internet, and a blow to those who rely on microblogs to disseminate information that is often not monitored as strictly as traditional media.

On July 29, Liu accused Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, of dereliction of duty during his time as party secretary of a local district in Chongqing. Liu had posted these allegations on his microblog.

The administration said it had been informed of the accusation but made no further comment, according to the Beijing Times newspaper.

Zhou called the charge against his client a “speech crime” and said the government could be retaliating against Liu because he detailed specific allegations against a wide range of officials, including many senior ones, across many provinces.

Liu's information came from his reporting and through his network, Zhou said, adding that Liu had no reason to suspect the veracity of the content.

“It's impossible that passing on this information constitutes the deliberate spread of false information or the intentional fabrication and transmission of information,” Zhou said. “Therefore it doesn't constitute defamation.”

Liu's microblog account has been deleted.

Officials in Chongqing could not be reached for comment.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made fighting graft a top theme of his new administration, and has specifically targeted extravagance and waste, seeking to assuage anger over corruption and restore faith in the party.

While the party has encouraged people to use the Internet to expose graft, it has detained activists who have called for officials to publicly disclose their assets.

Zhou said he believes the Chinese government “is somewhat uneasy” about people using the Internet as a tool to fight corruption.

Wary of any threat to its authority or social stability, the party has also stepped up its already tight controls over social media to limit public discussion of sensitive political issues.

In September, the government unveiled tough measures to halt the spread of what it called irresponsible rumors, threatening terms of three years in jail if untrue postings online were widely reposted.

“Weeks after the government passed a new rule criminalizing 'online rumors' - a well-known whistleblower is arrested for defaming officials - the message cannot be clearer, and it is likely to further silence Chinese netizens who are already quite worried,” said Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs