Blogger foretold his own arrest after criticising rumour crackdown

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 5:07am

A well-known microblogger, who predicted his own arrest after criticising a crackdown on online "rumours", has been detained.

Dong Rubin was detained on Tuesday on charges of misstating his company's registered capital in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, his lawyer Xiao Dongzhi said.

Dong, whose internet alias is "bianmin" or person living on the frontier, was running an internet consulting company, which has operated in China, but also among Chinese ethnic militias in Myanmar, just across the border from Yunnan.

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 was related to the anti-rumour crackdown. In the past month, hundreds of people have been detained around the country in an effort to curb critical debate online and hold influential commentators responsible for incendiary posts.

With a following of about 50,000, Dong is much less influential than the campaign's most prominent target so far, Charles Xue Biqun, who has a following of 12 million.

The American-Chinese venture capitalist was detained on charges of soliciting prostitution in Beijing in mid-August.

Dong emerged as an influential figure in the early days of Chinese social media. In 2009, he gained prominence amid public outrage as officials in his home province attempted to cover up the violent death of Li Qiaoming, who was in police custody.

State prosecutors claimed Li suffered fatal injuries to his head while playing a Chinese version of hide-and-seek, in the detention centre. But he was beaten to death by inmates, with the knowledge of guards. The grass-roots activism spurred by Dong led to an inquiry and the conviction of two prison guards.

Dong has since not shied away from controversial disputes. He spoke out to support hundreds of Kunming residents who challenged their mayor Li Wenrong in a rare protest against a petrochemical plant.