Thursday, March 3, 2016

Cyberspace Administration of China Orders Websites to Shut Ren Zhiqiang's Accounts

On December 14, 2014,  Red Flag Manuscript published an article by Li Yanyan (李艳艳 - whom it
identified as "with the Humanities division of Beijing Union University" - 北京联合大学) entitled "Some Tendencies That Must Be Addressed In Order to Safeguard Weibo's Ideological Security" ( 维护微博意识形态安全必须纠正的几种倾向). Some excerpts:
1. Guard Against Deception by Western Ideology Bundled Within "Universal Values" on Weibo
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Analysis of data on public sentiment research shows that some Big V's on Weibo lack an appreciation of the importance of the threat represented by the infiltration of the ideology of Western developed countries. Some even rely on foreign forces, blindly echoing them, and publicly insult leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and the Socialist system on their Weibo, repeatedly throwing up provocative topics to attack the government and incite social antagonism.

A certain famous economist who had over 2,000,000 followers not only greatly admires Western "liberalism," but even publicly declared that Communism was "a dead end."

Another famous actor with over 2,600,000 followers expressed doubts about whether "without the Communist Party there would be no new China," which is basic common sense, and publicly declared "without anyone there would still be a China."
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There are many struggles over Weibo ideology debates that implicate certain basic and fundamental questions of right and wrong. On March 28, 2014, the Weibo post of a certain famous economist was viewed over 4,000,000 times, and the statement in the Weibo that "A century ago Communism swept the globe, and how many young people had their blood spilled for it. But a century of practice has shown that this road is a dead end" received 15,000 reposts with various appraisals.

On September 4, 2014, a famous property magnate with over 20,000,000 followers made a Weibo post where he directly attacked Marxism for "brainwashing" the masses.
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Ideological and political work represents the future and destiny of the Party and the State. However, today there continues to be a flood of speech on Weibo attacking and denigrating the Party's leaders and the Socialist system. Some websites have failed to implement effective oversight. For example, Sina Weibo's reporting system includes seven items: "Spam, Obscenity, False Information, Sensitive Information, Plagiarism, Harassment, Fraudulent Contests," but it does not have an item relating to politics.
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Agencies responsible for propaganda and ideology especially need to strengthen their contacts with Weibo Big Vs, and do a good job of educating and guiding them, and as far as possible rally them around the Party and the government.
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The privatization of Weibo operating platforms may represent a significant threat to the ideology security of the State. According to statistics from April 2014, the shareholding structure of Sina Weibo, with 129,000,000 active registered users, was 59,8 held by Sina's special shares held by private companies and foreign investors, and 32% held by Alibaba, which has foreign shareholders. It has already listed on the US NASDAQ. The developments in the Weibo platform are a warning to us, that we must vigorously develop state-owned Weibo operating enterprises, and thereby enable the Party's ideology propaganda work to derive power from the developement of our Weibo platform.

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舆 情检索和分析的数据表明,一些微博大V显然没有对西方发达国家的意识形态渗透引起重视和警惕,更有甚者挟洋自重、盲目附和,在其微博中公开污辱中国共产党 的领导和社会主义制度,频频设置挑衅性议题向政府发难,挑动社会对立情绪。某拥有逾200万“粉丝”的知名经济学者,不仅十分艳羡西方的“自由主义”,甚 至在微博上公开宣称共产主义“此路不通”。另一拥有260多万“粉丝”的某著名演员,在微博上质疑“没有共产党就没有新中国”的基本共识,公开声称“没谁 都有中国”。
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在微博意识形态论争较量中,有很多是涉及原则性、根本性的大是大非问题。2014年3月28日, 一条某知名经济学家的微博获得了超过400万人次的阅读量,博文中“百年前共产主义风靡全球,多少热血青年为此抛头颅洒热血。可是经过百年的实践,证明此 路不通”的内容引发了近1.5万条褒贬不一的转评。2014年9月4日,一位拥有2000多万“粉丝”的知名地产商人发布微博,直接抨击马克思“洗脑”大 众。
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思想政治工作关系着党和国家的前途命运。然而,微博上一些攻击、诋毁党的领导和社会主义制度的言论至今仍 在泛滥,一些网站也没有有效监管。例如,新浪微博的举报制度包括“垃圾营销、淫秽色情、不实信息、敏感信息、抄袭内容、骚扰我、虚假中奖”七个条目,但没 有一条是涉及政治性的条目。
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微 博运营平台的私有化,可能存在着威胁国家意识形态安全的巨大风险。据2014年4月的统计数据,在拥有1.29亿月活跃注册用户数量的新浪微博股权结构 中,民企和外资背景的新浪公司持股占比59.8%,外资控股的阿里巴巴公司占比32%,而且已经在美国纳斯达克挂牌上市。微博平台的这种发展趋势警示我 们,必须大力发展国有控股的微博运营企业,从而使党的思想宣传工作能够借力我们的微博平台来开展。
According to a 2016 report in the state sponsored Global Times:
In September 2015, Ren [Zhiqiang] clashed with the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) on social media, claiming that it is "ridiculous" to ask CYLC members to be "communist successors" before communism has been achieved.

Ren also attacked CCTV in 2014, calling the State broadcaster "the dumbest pig on Earth," after a CCTV report claimed that China's largest residential real estate developer Vanke failed to pay the 4.4 billion-yuan land value increment tax.
The same report stated that Ren Zhiqiang had been "openly criticizing President Xi Jinping's emphasis on Party leadership in Party-run media," and on February 19, he had launched a "tirade . . .  writing on Weibo that the people will be forgotten when all the media follow the Party and do not represent the people's interests, after President Xi toured major State media outlets and underscored the Party's leadership over media run by the Party."

On February 22, 2016,, a news portal affiliated with the Beijing Communist Party Central Committee, published two editorials. The first was entitled "Why Do Internet Users Need to Take Ren Zhiqiang to Party School?" (网友为何要给任志强上党课?). Some excerpts:
On the morning of February 19, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman of the country, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, conducted a review of the People's Daily Press, Xinhua News Agency, and China Central Television. That afternoon, Xi Jinping convened a symposium on the Party's news public opinion work at the Great Hall of the People, during which he stressed that all media sponsored by the Party and the government are propaganda fortifications for the Party and the government, and must bear the Party's surname.
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On the same evening after General Secretary Xi gave his speech, Ren Zhijiang, a famous online celebrity and outstanding Communist Party member said on his Weibo "When did the people's government transform into the Party's government? Is the money being spent Party fees?" and  "You can't make this kind of change on whim!" "Don't use taxpayer money to engage in activities that are not providing services to taxpayers." Immediately afterwards he shrieks "Is this a categorical division into two opposing camps? When all of the media has a surname, and furthermore no longer represents the interests of the people, then the people will be discarded in some forgotten corner!"
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Any muckraking behavior must of necessity be subjected to the censure of the people. Any attempt at provoking disturbances or inciting hatred must of necessity be subjected to the disapprobation of the people. Having Internet users give Ren Zhiqiang some Party classes is the best evidence of this. In the days to come we will see even more Internet users with sincere patriotic hears bravely speak out and dare to struggle in the name of strengthening positive forces and contribute their power to realizing the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

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The second editorial was entitled "Who Gave Ren Zhiqiang the Nerve to Oppose the Party" (谁给了任志强反党的底气). Some excerpts:
How did the former Soviet Union fall? The fall began first from the media. Taking a page from history, the Party media will never again fail to speak the Party's principles, never abandon their kinship with the Party. The only thing to fear is that they will take the surname "capitalism." 
On February 28, 2016, the Cyberspace Administration of China posted an announcement on its CAC Spokesperson Announcement on the Shutting of Ren Zhiqiang's Weibo Account." Some excerpts:
website entitled "
Jiang Jun stated that, based on reports by Internet users, Ren Zhiqiang's Weibo account continuously publicized illegal information, and its influence was malicious. . . . [T]he CAC ordered relevant websites, including Sina and Tencent, to shut down Ren Zhiqiang's Weibo accounts.
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Online celebrities, "Online Big V's" must particularly ensure the proper usage of their personal influence, be models of obeying laws and regulations, be aware of their social responsibilities, and pro-actively disseminate positive energy.

姜军表示,据网民举报,任志强微博账号持续公开发布违法信息,影响恶劣。. . . 国家网信办责令新浪、腾讯等有关网站依法关闭任志强微博账号。
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The same evening, Hu Xijin (胡锡进), editor-in-chief of the state sponsored Global Times, posted the following on his verified Sina Weibo account:
People are spreading rumors about me, so I have to say a few words myself. The first is this time what Ren Zhiqiang said really crossed the line, and I firmly oppose his perspective and attitude. Second is he has been saying this for a long time now, and officials didn't touch him, and my personal hope and support for this kind of tolerance remains to this day. Third, until now Ren was one of the greatest beneficiaries of online culture, and I hope he becomes the best performer of flying right up to the bottom line, and doesn't continue to play the role of the Big V crashing into the line in some childish tragedy. Back when Big-Eyed Li (Li Chengpeng) and Lively Panpan were around, Ren was a kind straight man among the Big V's. Today he has "grown up," and furthermore he is a Party member, and I hope he becomes a lesson for the liberals and the "extreme liberals," as well as their "Party representative" that respects the rules as they should.

These screenshots show that on February 28 Sina Weibo began censoring searches for “Ren Zhiqiang” (任志强) as an account name.

This screenshot was taken on February 28, and shows Baidu had banned users from establishing a PostBar (贴吧 Tieba) forum about "Ren Zhiqiang."

Here is an image of Ren's Sina Weibo home page before it was shuttered.

On February 29, the Global Times published an editorial entitled “Shut-Down of Ren’s Social Media Accounts Anticipated” (任志强被销号,很多人都预见到了). Some excerpts:
Despite Ren being a Party member, he recently argued that "once media start to follow the Party line, ... the people will be left to a deserted corner," and questioned whether taxpayers' money should be used to promote the government. These remarks put the Party against the people, posing a challenge to the current public media management strategy.
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Ren's unprincipled outspokenness has been tolerated for a while. Such tolerance and inclusiveness is worth encouraging, but whoever crosses the bottom line must face a certain constraint. In his case, there have been debates over whether his outspokenness has crossed the line, but apparently he has given no heed to these warnings. His recent remarks have attracted wide criticism and calls for him to be held accountable.

As a Party member, Ren should have insisted on the constitutional principle of the Communist Party of China's leadership. Ren's case should be interpreted in the right way: The Internet is open, but there is no difference between managing virtual society and the real one.

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On February 29, 2016, the Global Times published an article entitled "Net Watchdog Closes Tycoon’s Social Media Accounts." Some excerpts:
There are people who applauded the shutdown of Ren's Weibo accounts. But some are asking whether he should be banned just for "talking too harshly."

He Hui (何辉), head of the Public Relations and Public Opinion Institute of the Communication University of China, said shutting down his Weibo accounts is a move to maintain the country's interests in accordance with laws.

"As an influential online celebrity and a Party member, many of Ren's comments on the real estate market and political issues violated the central government's policies and have had a negative impact on society," He told the Global Times Sunday.
 On March 2, the Global Times published an article entitled "Guangzhou to Punish Party Members’ Baseless Comments." Some excerpts:
The Party discipline watchdog in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province vowed to closely investigate and punish Party members for making groundless comments on the Party's leadership in 2016, media reported Tuesday.

The discipline inspection commission pledged to impose punishment - in addition to punishment imposed by the Party's leadership - on those who irresponsibly make comments about the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and socialism with Chinese characteristics, Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported.
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The announcement follows the case of Ren Zhiqiang - a property tycoon whose Sina Weibo account had more than 37 million followers - who will be punished by the Xicheng District Committee of the CPC in Beijing after openly criticizing President Xi Jinping's emphasis on Party leadership in Party-run media.