Mon, Aug 26, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Billionaire blogger Xue arrested in Beijing

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese-American billionaire blogger Charles Xue (薛蠻子), who has attracted 12 million followers with his reform-minded comments, has been arrested in China for suspected involvement in prostitution, police said yesterday, as Beijing steps up controls on Web users.

Venture capitalist Xue, one of the country’s most popular bloggers, was detained by Beijing police on Friday evening.

His arrest comes as authorities have been stepping up controls on the country’s freewheeling Web users in recent weeks.

Xue is an avid blogger who posted his last message on China’s hugely popular Sina Weibo microblogging site at 5:41pm on Friday, hours before he was detained.

He has previously backed a campaign to release transparent details on pollution in China and also highlighted the problem of child trafficking.

His detention dominated Weibo discussion, with his Chinese name Xue Manzi the most searched phrase yesterday.

Beijing police said on their verified Weibo account they had arrested a 60-year-old man surnamed Xue and a 22-year-old female.

“The two of them candidly confessed about the fact of the prostitution. They are currently under administrative detention,” the statement said, adding that the arrest followed a tip-off from local residents.

It also emerged yesterday that a journalist had been detained for “fabricating rumors” after he made online accusations of wrongdoing against a former senior official in Chongqing, the megacity once headed by fallen politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來).

Police in Beijing said the journalist with the News Express tabloid, whom they identified only by his surname Liu, “has been put under criminal detention according to the law for fabricating and spreading rumors.”

News Express journalist Liu Hu (劉虎) was handcuffed and taken away by police on Friday from his home in Chongqing, earlier Chinese media reports cited his wife as saying.

On his own Weibo account, Liu last month accused Ma Zhengqi (馬正其), a former Chongqing vice mayor, of dereliction of duty in the restructuring of a state-owned company in the city, leading to losses of dozens of millions of yuan, the reports said.

“I call on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and other authorities to immediately suspend Ma Zhengqi’s public office and start an investigation,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption department.

Ma is now a deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Liu’s action followed corruption allegations posted online by Wang Wenzhi (王文志), a journalist with Xinhua news agency, against the head of state-owned conglomerate China Resources.

Separately, the former deputy director of China’s top economic planning agency, Liu Tienan (劉鐵男), has been put under criminal investigation after a journalist at an influential business magazine accused him of improper business dealings late last year.

The arrests come after authorities told Internet celebrities with millions of online followers to “promote virtues” and “uphold law” online.

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