Anti-rumour campaign

Prominent Yunnan microblogger Dong Shiru detained in rumour crackdown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 11:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 5:22pm

Another well-known mainland microblogger has been detained by police in the wake of a new campaign against outspoken commentators in China.

Dong Rubin has been detained on charges of mis-stating his company’s registered capital on Tuesday in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, according to a statement by his lawyer Xiao Dongzhi.

Dong, whose Internet alias is “bianmin” (a person who lives on the frontier) was running an Internet consulting company. The company operated in China, but was also active among Chinese ethnic groups in Myanmar.

Last week, Dong wrote in a microblog post that he expected to be detained after his company offices were raided and an employee was taken away for questioning. Dong wrote that his imminent arrest would be part of the recent crackdown on microbloggers.

Over the last weeks, hundreds of people have been detained throughout China in an effort to curb online debate over contentious issues. 

With a following of about 50,000, Dong is much less influential than the crackdown’s most prominent victim so far - Charles Xue - who has 12 million online followers. Xue, a Chinese-American venture capitalist, has been detained over charges of soliciting prostitution in Beijing in mid-August.

Dong has been an early influential figure in Chinese social media. In 2009, he gained prominence amid public outrage over police brutality. Dong participated in a campaign contesting the official explanation of the death of an inmate at a detention centre in Puning county in Yunnan.

State prosecutors claimed inmate Li Qiaoming had suffered fatal head injuries while playing hide-and-seek in the detention centre. The grassroots activism spurred by Dong led to an inquiry and the conviction of two policemen.  

As other pundits gained more prominence, Dong continued to comment about other controversial issues in China. Recently, he supported hundreds of Kunming residents who challenged their mayor, Li Wenrong, in a rare public protest against a petrochemical plant in May. 

On Monday, the nation’s top judicial bodies said they would consider holding people whose microblog posts had been viewed more than 5,000 times or shared more than 500 times criminally liable for their contents.

Correction: An earlier version included a wrong spelling of Dong's first name.