Well-known Chinese-American angel investor and prominent online celebrity Charles Xue has been detained by Beijing police for suspected solicitation of prostitution.
Speculation is rampant in China's social Web, however, that the prostitution bust was just a scheme set up by the authorities to control influential liberals online as part of recent crackdown on “online rumors.”
The outspoken Xue, better known by his nickname Xue Manzi, is one of the most prominent figures in the Chinese Internet industry and is also a famous political critic on Chinese social media with over 12 million followers on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.
Xue's detention on on August 25, 2013 soon grabbed netizens’ attention, and his name became the top most searched key word on Weibo.
Last week, Chinese police detained two Internet users for allegedly starting online rumors defamed government groups and a cultural icon. Earlier in August 2013, the head of the State Internet Information Office urged a group of “Big V” users, as online celebrities are known, to be more constructive in their social media postings.
Government mouthpiece Guangming Daily ran a piece on Xue, saying[zh] his detention exposes Internet hypocrite. It also warns netizens “not to follow suit.”
One web user “Feixiangba feixiangba” suspected[zh]:
How come we hear only the one-sided story from the police and CCTV, but not Xu Manzi or his lawyer’s statement?
CEO of China eCaptial Wang Ran expressed symphony [zh]:
Even if Xue Manzi had a moment of weakness, it doesn't change the fact that he has done charity, helped entrepreneurs, spoken the truth, and promoted social progress. Mistakes are mistakes, but breaking the law is breaking the law, every adult should be responsible for their own actions. The most important thing at the moment is his comments on Weibo, which ones we agree with, and which ones we do not agree with.
Hu Xijin, chief editor of the government mouthpiece Global Times, weighed in[zh]:
It cannot be ruled out that the authorities were using the prostitution charge to frame Xue Manzi. It is a universal rule that governments around the world use sex scandals to frame political rivals. So I warn political dissidents in China to keep your bottom clean or you could mess up sooner or later. I would also urge the government to make sure the evidence they gather must be accurate, and the procedure flawless, or you would get the exact opposite result.
In response to Hu’s comment, online personality “Pretending to be in NY” disagreed[zh]:
Nobody in this world is flawless. If you require critics of the government to be flawless and perfect, then nobody in the world is qualified enough to criticize the government. Hu Xijin's words seem fair, but it is a naked threat. After reading his nonsense, I felt densely chilled and shuddered, and then when I saw that there were so many people applauding, I felt sad somehow.