Thursday, September 19, 2013

Weibo User "Boss Hua" Questioned by Police, China's Weibos and (Most) Search Engines Censor His Name

On June 26, 2012, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Not So Authentic." Some excerpts:
A door was half open at 10 am Wednesday, in a dark corridor of a tall office building beside the East Third Ring Road in Beijing. It was the China Office of the World Luxury Association (WLA), but no logo could be found on the door.
Inside the small office with only three rooms, seven people were idly browsing the Internet.
"We took off our logo a few days ago," a staff member who declined to be named told the Global Times.
The association has recently been the subject of much debate about its real background and legality.
. . . .
An Internet user named Huazong, who has an Internet company and is good at online information research including domain name registration, started an investigation into the real background of the WLA last month. He never expected that it would lead to death threats.
"The domain name of the WLA's website,, was registered by the World Luxury Association Ltd, according to my investigation. And its address is in New York. But the registered country was China," Huazong told the Global Times.
. . . .
Huazong's Weibo posts about the real background of the WLA and its China Office were widely reposted.
However, Ouyang said that Huazong was attempting to blackmail the association and this was being investigated by the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau's Hongkou branch.
Huazong later said on Weibo that he had received death threats from thugs hired by Ouyang, and that he had fled to Vietnam.
On September 4, 2012, the Global Times published an article entitled "Watch Hunt." Some excerpts:
When local official Yang Dacai rushed to the scene of a fatal road accident to monitor rescue work in Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province last week, he didn't expect he would soon be vilified by the public.
Pictures showing the potbellied official smiling in front of the wreckage of a double-decker sleeper bus that had crashed into a methanol-loaded tanker soon raised questions over how callous he could be, grinning at the loss of 36 lives.
That was just the beginning of the storm. In the ensuing cyber manhunt, an example of what are commonly known in China as "human flesh searches," enraged Web users not only  discovered his position - director of the workplace safety inspection administration of Shaanxi - but also came across pictures of him wearing  an expensive assortment of luxury watches.
. . . .
"Most Web users do not really care about the actual number or value of these watches," a Web user named Huazong, told the Global Times. "What they need is just a channel to vent their anger over corruption."
Huazong, a businessman in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, started compiling instances of the fancy watches worn by officials since July last year, and he had discovered Yang had at least 11 watches as early as October 2011.
Microblogs have coalesced into their own "micro-power," which when used collectively, is a mighty instrument, Tang Yuanqing, a professor of communication and public opinion from the Communication University of China, was reported by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.
. . . .
So far, Huazong has evaluated the watches of more than 300 officials, and found that many of them had more than three famous-brand watches, but his enthusiasm waned after he only received one official reply after 90 posts.
The assets of officials must be formally made public, because this kind of public exposure won't be able to prove whether they bought these luxury goods with their own salaries, he said, adding that follow-up investigations by inspection departments were important, or else microblog supervision would only descend into "virtual violence."
For censorship related to the Yang Dacai affair, see:

On September 18, 2013, the state-sponsored Southern Metropolitan Daily published an article entitled "Wristwatch Expert 'Boss Hua' Ordered by Police to Appear" (鉴表专家“花总”被警方传唤). Some excerpts:
According to information yesterday, the Internet user "Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel," (hereafter "Boss Hua" or "Huazong") who gained a reputation as a wristwatch appraiser  and for his "Guide to Artifice," has been taken away by police. Regarding this, a police officer who would not give his name has confirmed to a Southern Metropolitan reporter that a criminal suspect using the online name "Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel" was indeed ordered to appear by police, and was currently being questioned by officers of the Criminal Division at the Chaoyang District Public Security Office. He would not, however, say what crime "Boss Hua" was suspected of committing.
On September 18, the state-sponsored reported that Boss Hua had posted on his Sina Weibo account that afternoon "I'm free. Thanks!" (以自由了。谢谢!).

On September 19, Boss Hua posted the following on his Sina Weibo:
I was just released on bail, so its only a kind of temporary freedom, and I'm still not in the clear. As a suspected criminal I'm may not and should not use public opinion to influence the administration of justice. So until the case is resolved, I will not be making any comments regarding the status of the case. This is not because of any external pressure, and there no "confidentiality agreement" with police like some from have conjectured. To safeguard my rights during this process I place my hopes first in the law, and second in my lawyer.
According to Baidu's Encyclopedia (百科 Baike), Boss Hua's real name is Wu Dong (吴东)

These screenshots were taken on September 19, 2013, and show that both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Boss Hua" (花总 Hua Zong).
These screenshots show that, while Tencent's Soso was apparently not censoring searches for "Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel" (花总丢了金箍棒), a search for that term on Baidu returned a notice saying "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, some results have not been displayed" (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。).
These screenshots show that a search on Baidu's "Knowledge" (知道 Zhidao) for "Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel" on September 19 returns no results, and that the question "Who is Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel" was deleted some time between September 8 and September 19.

Finally, these screenshots show that Qihoo and Sogou were completely censoring searches for "Boss Hua Lost the Monkey King's Golden Cudgel."