Bo Xilai

Microblog shut down over HK photo

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am


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A mainland microblogger with more than four million followers had his microblog taken down by censors early yesterday morning after he posted a photo that some internet users linked to the candle-light vigil in Hong Kong on Monday night to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The last entry posted by Sun Jie, a grass-roots twenty-something blogger based in Qingdao, who uses the online pseudonym Zuoyeben, was a photograph sent to him by a friend featuring a large crowd of people seemingly marching at night that he captioned, 'Performance art. HK'.

He was told by his friend at about 1am yesterday that his account had disappeared. 'I didn't believe it and thought it was a joke in the beginning,' he said yesterday afternoon. 'The post doesn't contain any radical content or incite anything. It's not illegal. It's funny they blocked my account in this way because that might spark curiosity among internet users who want to know what really happened.'

He said he did not blame Sina Weibo for the removal of his account. 'It shouldn't be within their power,' he said, suggesting that Sina may have been acting under orders from authorities.

He said Sina staff had told him not to register other accounts to complain about the blocking of his microblog. He was not sure what would happen to his account.

Bei Feng, a Hong Kong-based internet analyst whose Sina Weibo accounts have been killed off more than 30 times, said the photo had crossed a red line for the authorities. The removal of Zuoyeben's account triggered an outcry among internet users. Kai-Fu Lee, the chief executive of Innovation Works called for his return because 'he is a gifted microblogger and knows what is appropriate'.

Analysts said the authorities were jittery about political comments on sensitive dates. Sina Weibo tightened its control of political remarks following the posting of widespread rumours about infighting among the Communist Party's top leadership following the fall of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai.