Since Xue Biqun, also known as Xue Manzi on Sina Weibo, was detained for soliciting prostitutes last Month, some voices have claimed that his detention was the result of the government's "crackdown on free speech." Chinese police have been fighting prostitution for a long time, and many people have been punished for this. There is no reason to think that Xue's arrest had anything to do with "free speech."
If Xue had been captured on his first offence, one could suspect that he had been "selected" by the police. However, Xue has been confirmed to be a "frequent caller." It is highly possible that he was caught red-handed with another 26 suspects in the police's action.
"Crackdown on free speech" is usually a label pinned on China by some Western countries. Now, some domestic voices are also leveling this accusation at the Chinese government, claiming that anyone who goes against China's system should not be punished. Even punishments for their misdeeds will be seen as a "crackdown on free speech."
Arguments about free speech have been going on for years. But there are two points that need to be noted.
First, China's opening-up and reform has a positive interaction with the development of free speech. The whole country follows the trend of free speech, which has been largely promoted by the development of the Internet in recent years.
Second, it is common sense to realize free speech is not boundless. Boundaries need to be drawn to protect society and the country's political system from agitation and rumors.
How to outline the boundaries is still a question that Chinese society is trying to answer. But a consensus on the existence of boundaries will make it much easier to address the problem. The problem is, some people never stop calling for free speech without boundaries, and proclaim themselves the incarnation of free speech.
Xue's detention is a normal public security case, which will not be changed due to public opinion. As for most Internet users, their voices are not being impacted by the government's crackdown on rumors, as only a few will start to be careful about their words. It is probably because their words have often crossed the line and their responsibility to society has not been carried out.
Xue's detention is a square peg in the round hole of free speech. The debates about their connections can only lead to fallacies, delusions and slander.
As for free speech, China's mainstream society has never become fed up with or been afraid of its development. Actually, mainstream ideology is trying to make free speech develop in tune with China's realities.
It is important for people to realize that only by depending on facts instead of assumptions, can they have a larger perspective to observe some social issues without being misled.