Chinese authorities in Hangzhou at the end of May summoned blogger and commentator Wei Manyi, better known by his pen name Shui Muran, to “assist investigations”. They also searched Wei’s home and copied information from his computer, according to Southern Metropolis, a regional newspaper based in Guangdong.
The next day police said that Wei had been detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” with a May 3 article Wei published on WeChat alleging links between corrupt businessmen and Buddhist temples. More than 100,000 people read Wei’s WeChat post within a few hours of its publication, according to press reports. Wei deleted the article several hours later and published an apology, saying he had not done enough research and calling on people to stop sharing it.
The Chinese government in 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, decreed that authors of libelous material viewed more than 5,000 times, or forwarded more than 500 times, can be charged with defamation and jailed for up to three years. Those who share information deemed to be false and to cause “serious social disorder” can be charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
In November 2015, a new law went into effect, stipulating that those deemed to have fabricated information related to “hazards, epidemics, disasters, and situations involving police,” or to have intentionally disseminated false information that could cause “serious social disorder” can be punished by to up to seven years in prison.
Photo by Sui Muran