This is what we were afraid of with the anti-rumor campaign: thin-skinned officials out in the middle of nowhere -- specifically, places where it's difficult for watchdog organizations or institutions (media? ha!) or individuals to keep authorities accountable -- cracking down on one's freedom to express anger, frustration, or any host of other very human emotions that this country would prefer stay bottled up in the repressed chambers of our being.
Several places have reported on this, but Global Voices wins top-link for its headline: "Opinion Leader Charles Xue Forced to Prostitute Himself on Chinese State TV."
Indeed, above, you'll see Xue, an investor and influential social media presence, issuing one long self-criticism about the pratfalls of celebritydom. Remember, this was a guy who was arrested ostensibly for solicitation. Everyone has always speculated that it was actually for his outspokenness, which Xue seems to have confirmed with his 10-minute self-flagellation.
The relationship between China's central and local governments has never been linear or completely top-down. There are times of harmony, but more often, there's tension. In the recent past, thanks to social media, conflicts and disagreements usually kept behind closed doors have begun leaking into the public domain.
Several recent posts on Sina Weibo by legal organs revealed that tensions are as manifest today as they were during historical times. Many netizens have gone as far to call these posts an act of “rebellion.”
Slanderous content -- "rumors" -- that are reposted at least 500 times or attract 5,000 views will put the author in danger of defamation charges and a three-year jail sentence, according to a clarifying statement issued by China's Supreme Court on Monday.
After locking someone up for misreporting the number of deaths in a traffic accident as 16 when it was really 10, and someone else for saying seven died in a different traffic accident when the real answer was three, and smearing Charles Xue, authorities apparently still believe their anti-rumor-mongering campaign is effective. In Qinghe, Hebei province, they've used it to net another victim recently:
Whatever happens in the privacy of one's home is apparently not always private, especially if you're a notorious rabblerouser with 12 million followers on Sina Weibo.
Chinese American Charles Xue, aka Xue Biqun (and Xue Manzi on Weibo, an anti-trafficking and environmental adovcate), was captured in Beijing last Friday for soliciting a 22-year-old prostitute. That's hardly the end of the story though. In the past week, authorities have gleefully smeared him in public, including on, it seems, every CCTV news broadcast, emphasizing Xue's confession and his love for sex parties. LOCK HIM WITH THE PEDOPHILES!
Chinese American angel investor and Sina Weibo celebrity Charles Xue (a.k.a. Xue Manzi, with more than 12 million followers) has been detained in Beijing for "suspected involvement in prostitution," China News reported on Sunday.
On August 23, off the tip from a local resident, Chaoyang District police captured Xue along with a 22-year-old woman from Henan province in a residential compound, according to the official weibo of Beijing Public Security Office: