After disappearing from social media in October, Chinese influencer Wang Jixian shocked his 258,000 followers with a post this week on X, formerly Twitter, declaring, "Now I'm a war criminal! I love Ukraine. No matter how I am and what I've experienced, invading or killing is wrong! I don't want to see another person die in the war."
Wang, 38, a software engineer from Beijing who lives in Odesa and works for an American company, made the post just days after a Ukrainian court found him guilty of publishing videos that could harm the country's national security.
The court declared Wang's videos on social media were "recording the operation of the air defense system in Odesa" and "commented on the place and time of shooting of the videos, the characteristics of the sound, the fact of hitting the target and the consequences of the hit."
The court said the posted videos allowed people, "including representatives of the Russian intelligence services and other agencies," to become familiar with Odesa's defense situation, which is illegal in Ukraine.
Patriots of Ukraine, a local media outlet in Ukraine, reported that Wang was sentenced to five years in prison but was released from serving the sentence with a probationary period of one year.
Ukrainian security agents released Wang on November 29, seven weeks after taking him from his home.
Dasha Zakopaylo, Wang's wife, told VOA Mandarin that Wang could not be interviewed because he is on probation but said he acted unintentionally and supports Ukraine's defense. "We were very shocked. We had no idea of this new law," she said in an emailed response.
Zakopaylo, who is Ukrainian, said she believes a Chinese person must have tipped off Ukrainian police about her husband's video posts, because they are all in Chinese. "Ordinary Ukrainians don't speak Chinese," she wrote, and then asked, "Why would Ukrainian police watch Chinese videos on social media?"
Wang's social media comments on China's current affairs, usually the opposite of China's government rhetoric, have also made him a target of Chinese police.
In a video he published in July, Wang said his parents, who live in Beijing, were approached by police. In the video, he calls the Beijing police and calmly asks them not to harass his parents, saying he is willing to talk to them directly.
Wang first gained international attention as a vlogger, or video blogger, posting in Mandarin about how Ukrainians are living under the daily threat of bombings since Russia's 2022 invasion.
He's not the first vlogger to run afoul of Ukrainian security since Russia's invasion. Several Ukrainians were similarly sentenced for posting videos related to air defense operations in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
After his release, Wang updated his profile on X to the handle "hellojixian."
"The old Wang Jixian is dead," he posted. "I'm a 'new person' now. I hope for peace and no more wars. I will not talk about wars or politics anymore. I just want to be an ordinary good husband and spend all the time with my wife."