Shut-down of Ren’s social media accounts anticipated

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-29 0:38:01

The Cyberspace Administration of China on Sunday requested that the Weibo accounts of Ren Zhiqiang, former chairman of a State-owned real estate company and a current Weibo celebrity, be shut down for "constant publications of illegal information that had created a vicious impact." The watchdog's spokesman Jiang Jun said that the decision was made after receiving complaints from netizens. He stressed that "nobody can spread illegal information online."

Ren's controversial remarks have earned himself a nickname of "cannon," which means big mouth. His outspokenness was at first mainly focused on property prices. His remarks such as "if someone cannot afford a house, it's shameful …" had repeatedly hit the headlines. Later his comments shifted to politics, and he often posted messages that were against the system.

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.

Ren has spoken out this way for a while, benefiting from the fame it brings but taking no responsibilities. He gained over 33 million followers on Weibo, attracted widespread attention and triggered numerous heated debates in the public discourse.

Though he claimed he had quite a rough life, on the whole he appears to have been fairly lucky. Ren was born to a family with an official background. Later he had a successful career. Many held that he has had a successful life, operating a State-owned company while speaking for the grass-roots. However the logic of such success is weak. 

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.

Posted in: Observer

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