Former Google official barred from China’s ‘weibo’


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 - Page 1

Taiwanese-born Lee Kai-fu (李開復), the former head of Google Inc’s China division, said he was banned for three days from posting on Chinese microblogging sites, where he has more than 30 million followers.

The ban applies to Sina Corp’s (新浪) Weibo and a similar service run by Tencent Holdings (騰訊), Lee said on Sunday on Twitter’s microblogging site. Lee, who has about 1 million followers on Twitter, confirmed the posting by telephone.

“I’ve been silenced on Sina and Tencent for three days, so everyone can come here to find me,” he said on Twitter, without giving a reason.

Lee, who is now chairman and chief executive officer of Innovation Works, a Beijing-based technology-business incubator, declined to elaborate.

Lee has used weibo sites to complain about China’s Internet controls. A Feb. 16 post summarized a Wall Street Journal article about how slow speeds and instability deter overseas businesses from locating critical functions in China. He also questioned the Chinese government’s decision to help fund a search engine with taxpayers’ money.

Last month, he also posted support for staff of a Guangzhou-based newspaper during a standoff with government censors.

“You can be outspoken with 1 or 2 million fans, or a few hundred thousand, but 30 million followers is like a provincial radio or TV station,” Beijing-based independent technology industry consultant Bill Bishop said. “I don’t know how many other people have that many.”

Beijing-based Sina spokesman Liu Qi (劉奇) declined to comment. Shenzhen-based Tencent director of investor relations Jerry Huang did not respond to a telephone message and e-mail seeking comment.

Pu Zhiqiang (浦志強), a Chinese civil rights lawyer, also had his Sina Weibo account blocked after he accused Zhou Yongkang (周永康) on a microblog of human rights violations when Zhou was secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Political and Legislative Committee from 2007 to last year.

Zhou was a much-reviled official who allegedly cracked down hard on dissent in the interest of “maintaining social stability” during his time in that job.

Widely circulated microblogging posts in recent days said that Pu’s repeated efforts to open new accounts proved unsuccessful because they were shut down as soon as he set them up.

Additional reporting by CNA