Fees protester detained
Police have detained a car owner for online attempts to organize a campaign against rising licence fees, state press said yesterday in a sign of official concern over potential unrest. The owner, publicly identified only by an online name, hoped for 100 cars to parade around Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, after the city proposed a 400 yuan (US$65) annual fee for vehicles with up to nine seats, reports said. The driver printed bumper stickers depicting a clenched fist and reading: “To hell with the annual fee” and “Say no to corruption,” the state-owned Global Times said, and he was detained by the authorities. However, no protest took place and the detention has raised concerns among lawyers, who say it was not legal, while social media commentators have raised fears over curbs on civil liberties. “The car owner shouldn’t be detained as there was no parade or gathering,” the paper quoted a lawyer in Guangdong as saying.
Tomb flattening sparks furor
Zhoukou, Henan Province, has halted a campaign to clear graves for farmland after the demolition of more than 2 million tombs sparked outrage. The city government demolished the graves this year as part of a “flatten graves to return farmland” campaign, the Beijing News reported yesterday. The newspaper quoted a local official as saying the campaign had stopped, after revised regulations on funeral management removed the government’s right to “use force” to “correct” the construction of graves. Local officials were ordered to set an example by demolishing their family tombs, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. The grave-flattening prompted an outcry on Chinese Internet sites, with thousands posting messages opposing the campaign. “Burying the dead has always been a sign of our level of civilization; this campaign shows our country has lost its moral foundations,” one user of Sina Weibo wrote.
Joke backfires on blogger
Hundreds of Internet users are rallying around a Beijing blogger who has been detained by police after posting a joke on Twitter about a pivotal Chinese Communist Party congress. On Nov. 5, Zhai Xiaojun posted a tweet that suggested the next movie in the Final Destination horror franchise would be about the Great Hall of the People collapsing on party delegates. The tweet said: “An earthshaking debut will be seen at the global premiere on Nov. 8,” which was when the week-long congress began. A Beijing police officer, who would only give his surname, Sun, said yesterday that Zhai was being investigated for “spreading terrorist information.” Zhai’s supporters call the allegation absurd. More than 400 people have signed an online petition urging authorities to release him.
Tweets land man in court
A man has received a suspended 10-month prison term for retweeting North Korean propaganda posts. The Suwon District Court cited the National Security Law in its ruling yesterday against Park Jeong-geun. The law prohibits praising and glorifying North Korea. Park could have received seven years in prison. The court says it suspended the prison term partly because Park promised not to repeat his act. It says Twitter’s widespread influence over society is the reason Park’s actions threatened national security. The 24-year-old Park retweeted dozens of posts from North Korea’s Twitter account last year. He denies that he meant to praise Pyongyang and says he was only trying to lampoon North Korea.