On October 7, Luo, who previously served as the deputy editor-in-chief of Beijing-based economic magazine Caijing, was summoned by a public security bureau in Sanya, a city in China’s Hainan Province, and later placed under detention.
According to the police notice, Luo was accused of ‘defaming heroes and martyrs’ because he referred to Chinese soldiers depicted in a recently released war propaganda film, “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” as ignorant. The comments were posted to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, on October 6.
Luo came under fire for his remarks, with several state media outlets criticising Luo for ‘casting a smear on deceased war heroes’. On October 7, Luo apologised for the comments, describing them erroneous and acknowledging that they may have been offensive. His Weibo account has since been suspended. China has a history of quashing dissent by coercing journalists to publicly confess or apologise for actions against the state.
Luo, 40, has previously worked with China Business Herald and The Beijing News, and currently runs a legal consultancy firm. In 2013, he was awarded the Integrity Award by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International in recognition of his “courage to expose corruption.”
The IFJ said: “As the state of press freedom in China continues to deteriorate, this detainment is yet another example of the state punitively censoring free speech within the digital sphere. The IFJ urges the Chinese authorities to release Luo Changping and allow journalists and all Chinese citizens the fundamental right to express their opinion.