. China News .

Japan paper's social media accounts 'blocked in China'
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 18, 2013

US 'concerned' over detention of Chinese lawyer
Washington, District Of Columbia (AFP) July 18, 2013 - The United States on Thursday called on China to release a human rights lawyer who has campaigned against government corruption, saying it appeared he was being penalized for his activism.

Xu Zhiyong, a lecturer at Beijing university, was held by police on Tuesday for "disturbing order in a public place," according to his friend and fellow attorney Teng Biao, who reported the detention on Wednesday on a Twitter account.

"We call on Chinese authorities to release Xu immediately, cease any restrictions on his freedom of movement and guarantee him the protections and freedoms to which he is entitled under China's international human rights commitments," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

"The United States government is concerned that he is being prosecuted as retribution for his public campaign to expose official malfeasance and for the peaceful expression of his views," she said.

Xu is a "leading public advocate for fiscal transparency and fighting official corruption," she added.

Rights groups called Xu's arrest the latest episode in a crackdown on political activists launched after President Xi Jinping was formally appointed in March.

At least 24 activists have been detained since late March, US-based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.

Chinese citizens are regularly scandalized by reports of corrupt officials living lavish lifestyles, leading to calls for laws requiring government officials to publicly list their assets.

US criticism of China's human rights record often draws the ire of officials in Beijing, who denounce it as interference in the country's internal affairs.

One of Japan's biggest newspapers said Thursday its social media accounts have been deleted in China, amid a bitter territorial dispute between the two countries.

The Asahi Shimbun's head office in Tokyo said that all four of its microblogging accounts in China were shut down this week in what it described as an "abnormal situation".

"It would be really regrettable if the accounts had been closed intentionally despite the large number of followers... we strongly request the operators reopen the accounts as soon as they can," it said.

Users of Sina Weibo, a microblogging service similar to Twitter, said the newspaper's account disappeared on Wednesday after having gathered around 1.3 million followers.

The reason for the account's deletion was unclear. Sina, which runs the social media service, was not immediately available for comment.

It was not clear what services the other accounts were on.

A former social media editor for the newspaper, posting under the name Wangzuo Zhongyou, wrote that the accounts were taken down because of "instructions from above", without giving details.

Some Sina Weibo users on Thursday posted icons of candles in memory of the account's disappearance.

Beijing has previously blocked the websites of foreign media organisations including the New York Times and Bloomberg after they published reports on topics deemed taboo by the ruling Communist Party.

China and Japan have for decades disputed the ownership of a string of islands in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

Beijing stepped up its rhetoric and sent patrol ships to surrounding waters after Tokyo nationalised three islands in the chain in September last year, in what it said was a mere administrative change of ownership from a private owner.

China insists the islands were part of its territory until Japan annexed them in 1895 at the start of a half-century of acquisitive invasions that culminated in World War II.


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Beijing envoy, Hong Kong lawmakers in landmark talks
Hong Kong (AFP) July 16, 2013
China's top representative in Hong Kong held unprecedented talks with local legislators Tuesday, two weeks after tens of thousands of protesters denounced the slow pace of political reform in the city. Zhang Xiaoming, head of the city's mainland China liaison office, was invited to the lunch by a pro-Beijing lawmaker following the July 1 protest in a bid to improve dialogue between the two s ... read more

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