CHILL: China’s ‘Corruption Crackdown’ Crushes Dissent, New Citizen Movement Activists Arrested

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Targeting of China’s graft-busting New Citizen Movement highlights the limits of the Chinese Communist Party’s pledge to tackle corruption

 reports: It was just a picture. Three friends gathered outside an apartment block, holding a sign. But the trio in the photograph are affiliated with China’s New Citizen Movement, a loose network of rights campaigners, legal activists and ordinary citizens whom the country’s rulers don’t much like. And the sign called for Chinese officials to fully disclose their assets. After it was posted online, the picture got the three locked up.

The people in the photograph — Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua — on Tuesday will face charges of illegal assembly, a vague, catchall charge often used to net dissidents. The case, to be tried in southeastern Jiangxi province, first opened in October, but was adjourned on Day 1 after the defendants dismissed their lawyers in protest. It was a rocky start to the first trial of New Citizen Movement activists since a crackdown on the movement began last spring. “This is definitely a test case,” says Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It may tell us something about the new leadership’s attitude toward peaceful activism.”

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How to Get Censored on China’s Twitter

Pictures that an Internet poster on China's Weibo microblogging site went viral when it was suggested they were of officials in Lujiang County.

ProPublica has launched an interactive feature of tens of thousands of images that have been censored from Weibo, in an effort to show what topics are likely to be targeted:

How  censors its users is as revealing as the content that appears on the site, and for the past five months, we’ve been watching the watchers. We’ve created an interactive feature, launching today, that allows readers to see and understand the images that censors considered too sensitive for Chinese eyes.

[…] For five months, our software has been quietly checking 100 Weibo accounts, keeping track of every post containing an image and returning repeatedly to see if those posts were deleted. Our collection has grown to nearly 80,000 posts, of which at least 4,200 — more than 5 percent — were deleted by censors.

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China Detains a Billionaire for Activism

wanggongquan4BEIJING —Edward Wong writes: A Chinese billionaire venture capitalist who has strongly advocated more liberal political and social policies was detained Friday by Beijing police officers, friends of the businessman said.

The businessman, Wang Gongquan, 51, is a close friend of Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer who was formally arrested last month on a charge of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” Mr. Wang was detained on the same charge, according to a photograph of the warrant that circulated online on Friday. One human rights group said Mr. Wang was in Beijing No. 3 Detention Center, where more than a dozen others with ties to the New Citizens’ Movement, led by Mr. Xu, are being held.

Mr. Wang was taken from his home by more than 20 police officers around 11:30 a.m., said Chen Min, another well-known rights advocate, who goes by the pen name Xiao Shu. The police searched the home for more than two hours and took away a computer, two framed pictures and small “citizen pins” that Mr. Wang presumably had made at some point, Mr. Chen said. Read the rest of this entry »