Chinese Internet Riled Up Over Detention of Corruption-Busting Microblogger

September 17, 2013, 9:40 PM

Chinese Internet Riled Up Over Detention of Corruption-Busting Microblogger

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An image posted to Sina Weibo in Sept. 22 shows identified luxury watches worn by disgraced former Chinese official Yang Dacai. A number of Mr. Yang’s watches were identified with the help of microblogger Wu Dong, known online as Boss Hua.

China’s top social media site lit up Tuesday night following reports that one of its most celebrated corruption busters had been taken into police custody amid a renewed government effort to exert more control online. The official newspaper of China’s military, Liberation Daily, reported on its verified feed on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging site that the microblogger known by the pen name “Boss Hua Has Lost His Golden Cudgel” was being interrogated by police in Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district, though it did not say when or why he was taken away. A policeman answering phones in the Chaoyang district police station said he had no knowledge of the case. Calls to the station’s propaganda office rang unanswered Tuesday night.Boss Hua, a watch aficionado whose real name is Wu Dong, became famous last year after he started identifying the luxury watches worn by officials in photographs posted online. He is widely credited with helping bring down Yang Dacai, a former official known as “Brother Watch” because of his penchant for expensive time pieces.

Mr. Yang was sentenced to 14 years in prison and forced to forfeit more than 5 million yuan ($802,000) in assets on Sept. 5 after pleading guilty to having accepted bribes as head of the work-safety administration in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province.

The microblogger’s pen name, which references a magical weapon wielded by the Monkey King in the Chinese epic novel “Journey to the West,” was among the hottest search terms on Sina Weibo until around 7 p.m., when searches began to be blocked.

Having already seen a number of social media stars detained and intimidated, users of social media site responded with a mixture of sympathy and trepidation.

“This time Boss Hua really has lost his golden cudgel,” wrote one Weibo user. Another was more direct: “They’re arresting everyone one by one. Executing a new person every day – they enjoy the fear that causes.”

Even Sina Corp. Chief Editor Chen Tong, who typically refrains from taking sides in politically sensitive discussions online, chimed in with his own message of support.

“Boss Hua is a low-key, peaceful, cool-headed and objective comrade. I can’t believe he has problems,” he wrote.

Authorities are in the middle of a campaign, designed to bring the country’s Internet under tighter control, that some observers have likened to the Anti-Rightist movement of the 1950s, when Mao Zedong invited intellectuals to criticize the Communist Party only to turn around and purge them later on.

After encouraging public participation in anticorruption efforts earlier in the year, China’s new leadership has recently appeared to backtrack, detaining some Internet users who have attempted to expose corruption on the grounds that they are spreading rumors.

Among them is journalist Liu Hu, who was detained on charges of provocation and incitement not long after forwarding a social-media post alleging wrongdoing by a top business regulator.

“Even if you’re a good person doing something good like fighting corruption, it something they want to keep for themselves,” wrote Cui Weiping, a well- known social critic. “Controlling every single spark of spontaneity is the foundation of their logic.”

It’s not clear how long Mr. Wu will remain in police custody or whether he will be charged with a crime. Authorities sometimes interrogate influential Internet users and release them without charge several hours later.

Mr. Wu’s mobile phone was switched off Tuesday night.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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