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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid