- Boy publicly questioned police investigation into death of local businessman
- Internet censors have ordered bloggers to ‘keep social order’
By Anna Edwards
PUBLISHED: 04:16 EST, 20 September 2013 | UPDATED: 06:07 EST, 20 September 2013
A draconian measure to stop people ‘gossiping’ online in China has claimed its first ‘offender’ – a 16-year-old boy.
The country has imposed strict limits on what people can and cannot say on the internet, which many thought would target whistleblowers, critics of the government, or activists.
Instead, a teenager, named only as Yang, was arrested for ‘provoking trouble’ by criticising police online.
In August, internet censors called popular bloggers to meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including keeping social order
The Beijing Times has interviewed a man, who claims police took his 16-year-old son away this week, after accusing him of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’.
The newspaper said the blogger had gone on the popular social media site Weibo to post his criticisms of the police handling of a death in the community.
A statement from authorities in Zhangjiachuan, Gansu province said the boy had publicly questioned a police investigation about the death of a local businessman, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The case involved a karaoke bar manager who supposedly committed suicide by leaping from a building.
But the sceptical teenager posted the claim that the man had been beaten up in a row, and accused the police of failing to investigate fully.
State media have also accused some microbloggers of undermining socialism and promoting Western values
His accusation quickly went viral and caught the attention of the authorities, who decided to act.
Under the new Chinese law it is illegal to post ‘false information’ that may be harmful to others.
The law stipulates that if such information is retweeted 500 times or seen by 5000 users, the person who posted it can be arrested.
In August, internet censors summoned popular micro-bloggers to meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including keeping social order – a move observers have said has a chilling effect on public discourse.
State media have also accused some micro-bloggers of undermining socialism and promoting Western values by spreading lies and negative news.
Last month government-run newspaper The People’s Daily reminded China’s ‘big Vs’ – popular bloggers whose social media profiles are verified as genuine – that they ‘should be careful what information they convey.. and use their right to expression responsibly.’
Many Chinese celebrities, from pop stars to business tycoons, have amassed huge followings on social media sites, and at times have posted material that the government has not approved of, such as calling attention to social injustices and questioning state policies.
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