China makes more arrests linked to online opinion clampdown

Summary:A prominent Chinese venture capitalist was arrested for patronizing a prostitute and being linked to another individual spreading online rumors, while an investigative journalist has been detained for fabricating and spreading rumors.

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Beijing's police has detained a prominent Internet entrepreneur as well as a journalist, the latest arrests linked to China's clampdown on online rumors.

The police of Chinese capital Beijing have detained an outspoken Chinese Internet entrepreneur linked  to a "rumor monger", and an investigative reporter accused a government official of dereliction of duty.

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Monday, Charles Xue Biqun, a venture capitalist, known as Xu Manzi, was arrested on Friday along with a young woman for suspected involvement in prostitution, the city's police said through its official Weibo account. Xue is a large investor in Autohome online car Web site, which is majority owned by Australian telco Telstra.

Xue, who has more than 12 million followers on his Sina Weibo microblog, had allegedly been caught patronizing a prostitute in a residential compound in Beijing after police received a tip from neighbors, another Weibo post said.

He was also said to have invested in the company of an "online rumor monger" Qin Zhihui who had been arrested for stirring trouble, and also operated an illegal business two days before his detention.

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Charles Xue Biqun (Source: SCMP)

The Beijing police's microblog post also announced that Liu Hu, an investigative reporter at Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, had been placed under custody on Saturday for fabricating and spreading rumors.

Liu had alleged that Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, was negligent in his public duties while working in the city of Chongqing, and the administration said it was aware of the accusation but had made no comment.

The investigative journalist had also shared information which raised questions over possible corruption by other senior government officials but his microblog posts were later deleted.

This comes as part of the Chinese government's earlier pledge to crack down on online rumors. Just last week, two Weibo users Yang Xiuyu and Qin Zhihui, were allegedly involved in the "black PR" business in China were detained by the police for fabricating rumors and obtaining benefits illegally through their microblogging accounts.

Online users and experts in China have also called for a fight against online rumors and misinformation, according to Global Times on Sunday.

"They fabricated news about the Red Cross purchasing villas and spending 10,000 yuan on tents. These influential bloggers did nothing but spread rumors," Yao Lixin, a spokesperson at China's Red Cross Society, said in the report.

Another senior media professional, Yang Lan, said in the article: "I think the social mentality is quite complex right now. People want to vent their feelings. But regardless of your views, you should be truthful and not violate the lawful rights of others."

Earlier this month, six Chinese Internet companies including Qianlong, Baidu, and Sina Weibo jointly launched a new Web site to monitor and debunk online rumors .

Topics: Censorship, China, Legal

About

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

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