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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 10:17am

Charles Xue

Charles Xue Biqun, also known by his alias Xue Manzi, is a billionaire venture capitalist and one of the most active investors in the Chinese internet industry, having invested in hundreds of internet startup firms. Born in 1953, Xue is the son of a former deputy mayor of Beijing. He studied foreign relations at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a naturalised US citizen. Xue is a leading liberal commenator on the Chinese social media scene, and has participated in or funded many public-interest projects in China in recent years. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. He was put under administrative detention by Beijing police in late August 2013 for allegedly hiring a prostitute. 

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INTERNET

Beijing police detain online 'rumour-mongers' in veiled warning to liberal opinion leaders

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 9:10am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 1:17pm
 

In a unusually well-publicised police operation, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday that Beijing police have detained and launched criminal investigations into four people in an attempt to “eradicate the breeding ground for internet rumours”.

Police said Erma, a Beijing-based internet marketing company, spread rumours about poor governance and official corruption in China to increase their influence on social media and gain financial benefits. Lengthy stories about the misdeeds of the alleged rumour-mongers splashed across the front pages of many official newspapers on Tuesday, and featured prominently on major news websites. State-run mobile phone companies also sent messages of the news to hundreds of thousands of customers. 

The arrests coincide with a concerted government campaign to discredit outspoken liberals and crack down on dissent since Xi Jinping became president. In April, a secret Communist Party Central Committee circular called on cadres to crack down on subversive forces within Chinese society.

Rumours spread by Erma employees over the last few years have been widely shared by well-known “public intellectuals” and liberal commentators with many followers, Wu Boxin, a professor at the Peoples’ Public Security University of China told the Beijing TimesHe said those spreading the rumours have been linked with China’s most prominent advocates of political reform.

According to state media reports, Qin Zhihui, one of those detained on Tuesday on suspicion of "making trouble and operating an illegal business", had allegedly been previously employed by a company owned by Charles Xue, or Xue Biqun, a venture capitalist and prominent liberal internet commentator. Better known by his alias "Xue Manzi," the billionaire venture capitalist claims more than 12 million followers on the popular social media platform Weibo.

Along with Internet entrepreneur Kai-fu Lee, fellow billionaire investor Wang Gongquan and economist Mao Yushi, Xue is well known in the Chinese cyberspace as one of the most prominent proponents of democratic reforms. State media have stepped up their criticism of these so-called "public intellectuals" in recent months.

Repeated calls to Xue were not answered on Wednesday morning. 

Among the rumours allegedly spread by the company was a report that the Chinese government was offering 200 million yuan to the three foreign victims of the Wenzhou train crash two years ago, Xinhua said. The rumour went viral, leading to a statement by the Ministry of Railways saying Chinese and foreign victims would be equally compensated.

Erma also spread rumours about Guo Meimei, the young woman whose online exhibition of luxury cars hurt the reputation of the Chinese Red Cross, Beijing Times said.  

The company has attempted to smear the reputation of revolutionary hero Lei Feng, the outspoken retired People’s Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan and Zhang Haidi, the chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons’ Association, Xinhua said.

Last Wednesday, a government-sponsored conference issued “seven bottom lines” on the use of social media, warning netizens not to harm the economy, the state or individuals. The internet has no future without the “seven bottom lines” the Beijing Youth Daily argued in an editorial on Monday.

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TNC2013
This will backfire on China badly. This is not the 1970s when Russia could throw its dissidents into the gulags quietly. It is not even the 1990s when China still could convince its citizens that opening the economy while keeping political discussion off the table was the best they should hope for. The entire world is looking at China via the net, webcams, cell phone cams and blogs. The people in China are themselves exchanging their views and ideas at rates never seen before.
.
They will bitterly oppose this when they see how arbitrary such attacks and arrests get. The Chinese authorities, believing they are helping quell potential protests, are in fact throwing fertilizer on feelings of anger.
norodnik
Is there actually a formal list of all these specious "laws" people are being accused of breaking? From my over 20 years experience in mainland China the cops just say "Wo gao su ni" but can never show you a legal document stating such violations....hence, China is just a country of arbitrary rules and no laws...you need legal reform before you can have political reform.
scmpgt
Taiwan is a part of China. Anything else is just a rumour. And rumour mongers need to be eradicated.
johnh
This is the government we're dealing with right across our borders. Do you know how lucky you are to live in Hong Kong?! Democracy now!
chaz_hen
Chairman Xi...the "China Dream"...the next great hope for China reform...Let's see what the NEXT generation brings...

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