Kai-fu Lee

Party publication sets sights on ex-Google China chief Lee Kai-fu

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 3:10am

A Communist Party propaganda magazine has posted an op-ed online questioning the claim by one of the country's most widely followed weibo commentators - former Google China chief Lee Kai-fu - that he has cancer.

The commentary, which was posted on Dangjian magazine's website this week, comes amid a crackdown on internet speech.

It consists largely of a series of questions that appear phrased to cast doubt on Lee's integrity and remind readers about his ties to the United States.

The piece is attributed to self-proclaimed current affairs commentator Zhou Xiaoping , who called into question Lee's disclosure last month that he is suffering from lymphoma.

"China now has very advanced testing devices," Zhou wrote. "So if you dare to prove you really are suffering from cancer, why don't we let 20 internet users escort to you the best hospital on the mainland to take a public test? Then it will all be crystal-clear."

Zhou drew a comparison with the case of Charles Xue Biqun , a prominent online commentator recently detained on suspicion of patronising prostitutes. Xue, who is better known by his internet penname Xue Manzi , was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago.

"[Without a test], it would be very hard to guarantee whether you are following in the footsteps of Xue Manzi," Zhou wrote.

Wang Zhaohui , a spokesman for Innovation Works, the business incubator and venture capital fund Lee founded, declined to comment. Wang has said Lee is in Taiwan to receive treatment for numerous tumours in his abdominal area.

The article in Dangjian, which is overseen by the Communist Party's Publicity Department, came amid a nationwide effort to rein in influential online opinion makers and crack down on internet "rumour mongers".

Lee has more than 51 million followers on Sina Weibo. Xue has more than 11 million.

The article also alluded to some ties between Lee, a Taiwan native, and the United States, where he studied and worked.

"What exactly is your relationship with the US?" it asked.

Yesterday's article stirred debate on mainland blogs, with some internet users calling on Lee to come clean and others dismissing the article as "pure propaganda material for the party".