Radio France Internationale published an article which stated that the microblog of a Chinese Real Estate businessman was recently closed because of his postings of “illegal statements.” According to the article, since Xi Jinping visited three central media on February 19 and urged all the Party and government media to show absolute loyalty to the Party, all of the media entities throughout China published articles showing their allegiance to the Party. However, Ren Zhiqiang, a real estate businessman who has over 30 million followers on his microblog site, published two postings questioning this request. He asked, “When did the people’s government change its loyalty to the Party?” He also stated, “When the media show loyalty to the Party, the people that should be represented will end up being forgotten in a corner.” These two blogs were soon deleted from the Sina website. According to the article, on Feb 22, the Qianlong website which the propaganda department of the municipal government of Beijing manages, published an article accusing Ren of spreading an “anti-party” ideology. In the next few days, a number of official media published articles criticizing Ren’s posts and questioning his motive of “placing the Party against its people.” They even called Ren the shame of 80 million Party members and said he should be expelled from the Party.
On February 25, the China Digital Times website carried an opinion article written by Cai Xia, a professor at the Central Party School. Her article covered the following three areas: about Party members’ rights to express opinions; how different opinions within the Party should be handled; and how Party members can participate in discussions and express their opinions. Cai quoted a statement that Xi Jinping made to support her position: “The Chinese Communist Party should tolerate criticism. … Those who are non-Party members should be bold enough to speak up to reflect the true voice of the people…” Cai concluded that how Ren is treated is directly correlated with whether 80 million Party members’ rights are protected.
On February 27, Guangming Daily published an article that stated that the Party School should be loyal to the Party and questioned Cai Xia on where her Party spirit is.
On February 28, Xinhua published an article quoting the spokesperson from the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatiomiization office who confirmed that Ren’s microblogs on Sina and Tencent have been closed due to Ren’s “illegal public statement.”
Radio Free International, February 26, 2016
China Digital Times, February 25, 2016
Guangming Daily, February 27, 2016
Xinhua, February 28, 2016