One of China’s best-known social media accounts is among dozens that have been shut or muzzled as censors cracked down on remarks they said are “harmful to politics”. Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, announced on Monday that 29 accounts, including one belonging to actor Zhao Lixin, were purged, suspended or shut down. The censorship campaign came a week after Weibo gagged more than 50 users, including Yu Jianrong, an outspoken liberal intellectual with more than seven million followers, for posting information authorities said was objectionable. Zhao was the target of strong criticism this month when he asked why British and French forces had burned Beijing’s Old Summer Palace during the Second Opium War in 1860 and left the Forbidden City unscathed. He poured oil on troubled water with a post that said: “Japan occupied Beijing for eight years. Why did they not loot the artefacts or burn down the Forbidden Palace? Does this fit the nature of aggressors?” Chinese-born Swedish Zhao, 51, issued a public apology after state media joined in the criticism that his remarks had offended many people. The reality TV, stage and screen star – whose film acting career took off with 1999’s Breaking Out in Sweden and whose recent work included an appearance in Chalou Hasi’s 2018 film, Genghis Khan – said he “strongly condemned the trauma that Anglo-French forces and the invading Japanese army have caused Chinese people”. Zhao’s account was closed on April 6. Posts to his studio’s account were all removed that night. Actor Zhao Lixin makes apology after uproar over Japanese subjugation of China, saying ‘Chinese blood is in my bones’ According to a Weibo statement, other casualties of the shutdown included a business influencer with 386,000 followers; an account called Monetary Authority that had 20,000 followers, and I Am Down And I Am Pretty – which had 32,000 followers when it was closed. Weibo gave no other details of these users. The social media company also urged users to obey its rules and to not publish any content that violated regulations governing the internet. It said content that went against the constitution, threatened the unity of country or state security, or that instigated ethnic hatred was harmful to politics. Repression of speech in cyberspace came to the public’s attention in 2013, when hundreds of people across China were detained on charges of “inciting trouble” and “posting unverified or critical information” to Weibo accounts. Weibo accounts shut over comments criticising young Chinese victim of Ethiopian Airlines crash In 2017 China’s online censor shut down dozens of entertainment news accounts on Weibo, Tencent, NetEase and Baidu – a rare crackdown on non-political content. Weibo was given a “serious warning” last year by China’s Cyberspace Administration for its “lax management” as part of the country’s largest attack on freedom of speech, when about 10,000 social media accounts on Weibo and WeChat were shut down in three weeks.