A Global Times journalist , who spoke on condition of anonymity, said domestic media outlets were also reflecting the increasing influence of the Internet on the news agenda.
The journalist said the newspaper took up Ren’s case because it had run hot on China’s Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, commonly used to expose abuses of power among lower-level officials. However, criticism of top leaders remains off limits on Weibo.
Chinese Internet users have posted more than 800,000 messages on Weibo over Ren’s case, mostly to protest his sentence.
They were particularly incensed by news that Chongqing police had also raided Ren’s home and confiscated a T-shirt with the words: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The clamor for free speech highlights the challenges facing Xi as the CCP struggles to meet people’s demands for a greater say in how they are governed while preserving one-party rule.
Xi is set to succeed Hu as party leader at the CCP Congress that opens on Nov. 8 and then take over as China’s president in March.