Chinese Microblogger Detained After Questioning Dead Pigs Scandal

A Shanghai poet was detained for questioning by Chinese police after she posted to popular microblogging site Sina Weibo calling on her followers to take a stroll en masse along the Huangpu River to bring attention to the waterway where nearly 15,000 dead pigs have recently been found floating.

The dead pigs scandal and the resulting fears of contaminated tap water have become a hot topic of discussion online since the first carcasses were discovered on March 7, 2013. Web users have posted sarcastic pictures to poke fun at the situation, and some have questioned the government's management of the incident.

But outspoken poet Pan Ting was detained by police and banned from Weibo after she published on March 14, 2013 for her 50,000 followers a call for an organized walk along the Huangpu River [zh], although she mentioned that it was meant as a “pure stroll” without any banners or slogans.

Soon after, local police visited her home. Pan was forced to hand in all her communication devices and “drink tea” with police, a term used to describe interrogations by police about a person's online activities.

Pan Ting wrote on the other Weibo account "Pan Ting's backyard" : The head of the police has come to my home, and my mom is crying."

Pan Ting wrote on her other Weibo account “Pan Ting's backyard”: “The police has come to my home, and my mom is crying.”

After she was released, Pan commented on her other Weibo account “Pan Ting's backyard” [zh]:

诗人潘婷的后花园: 之前被禁言,我还愤愤不平打给新浪客服问刑期,短信给好友求声援。這次,我没有!因为我彻底鄙視了,一个连呼吁家园污染、和你們息息相关的声音,你们也关押!我倒要看看你们能关我多久!茶叔至少还说了一句:理解您的初衷。

When I was banned on Weibo before, I used to call Sina customer service with anger and ask how long it would take. I also asked friends to spread the message on Weibo to support me. However, this time I didn't do that. I feel very disappointed. You even shut out a voice concerned about local pollution and your own lives. I will see how long you will shut me out. At least the tea uncle said to me: I understand where you are coming from.

Before proposing the walk, Pan ran into trouble with Weibo's censors, who repeatedly deleted questions that she posted on March 14, 2013 directed at the Shanghai municipal government regarding the dead pigs.

Pan wrote [zh]:


Today, I even cried when my posts were deleted … the first time after having posts deleted for the past two years. I can not stand it. I just want to fight for a clean Huangpu River in our hometown. Is there anything wrong with that?

Many Weibo users showed support for Pan Ting. Writer Zhao Chu called for [zh] more people to pay attention to Pan and her situation:

上海的朋友们,特别是律政和媒体朋友,请关注下有位@诗人潘婷 姑娘。谢谢。PS,有关部门:不必对一个年轻人正常的公益关切搞得那么过敏,阳光明媚,天气晴好,个别人最轻微地表达下对切身环境的意见,这是值得大大赞扬的好事情,没必要风声鹤唳,你们毕竟也是喝黄浦江水的。

Friends in Shanghai, especially friends in law and the media industries, please keep an eye on @Poet Pan Ting. To a certain department: You don't need to be so sensitive with a young girl who just shows her concern about the environment. Some individuals only voiced their opinion; this should be praised. It's not necessary to panic at the slightest sound. After all, you also drink water from the Huangpu River.

Writer Li Minsheng demanded [zh] an explanation for Pan's detention:

一个文弱的小女子,因死猪问题说了几句良心话,却被禁言、禁私信,被迫上交所有通讯方式,甚至还被“失踪”3 小时!她唯一的请求是:“请你们不要再大清早或半夜按我家门铃,让我妈妈害怕。”办过世博会的大上海,为何容不下一个诗人?潘婷触犯了那条法律,请上海面对全国,作出回应!

Just because a young woman said a few honest words about the dead pig issue, she was detained, banned, and forced to hand in all her communication devices. She was even “missing” for three hours! Her only request was: “Please do not come ring my door bell early in the morning or in the middle of the night to scare my mom.” As a big city that has hosted the World Expo, why can't Shanghai tolerate a poet? What law has Pan Ting violated? Please respond to the whole nation, Shanghai!

Xu Qiuhong echoed [zh]:


She only had 50,000 followers, she just said a few words, and she was banned immediately as if she were a big enemy. The so-called “new government” is just a show. Looking forward to seeing all of this come to an end.

While many showed support for Pan Ting, some also questioned the absence of male voices on this issue. Some Weibo users were particularly disappointed with two famous online personalities Han Han and Zhou Libo who have kept silent on the issue. Sports journalist “Lanzhou Banzhuan Ershi” [zh] criticized Shanghai men:

@诗人潘婷 因为追问死猪事件被禁言,有熊猫上门,我在支持她的同时顺带发问——上海有男人吗?至少在潘婷之前我没有听到过有上海男性因为追问这个事情而惹毛政府…..

Poet Pan Ting questioned the dead pigs incident and she was banned. While supporting her, I also want to ask: “Are there any real men in Shanghai?” I haven't heard about any guys in Shanghai getting in trouble with the government by questioning this incident…

Earlier this week Seeing Red in China raised the question as to why Shanghai residents have remained calm about the threat of contaminated water. Perhaps Pan Ting's detention is at least part of the reason.

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