China: Authorities detain journalist for online remarks

Former Chinese journalist Qiu Ziming has been detained by authorities for his social media comments in relation to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers involved in the border clashes with the India troops in June 2020. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemn the arrest and call on the authorities to release Qiu immediately.

The Chinese app Weibo's logo is displayed on a tablet. Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/ AFP

Police in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing confirmed the arrest of Qiu for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on February 20. The 38-year-old, known as Labixiaoqiu on the Twitter-like Chinese platform Weibo, “had made illegal remarks on the internet that distorted the truth and demeaned the five heroes that had defended their country and guarded the borders,” according to the police statement

Qiu reportedly questioned the authenticity of the death toll revealed by the military, suggesting the number of casualties was likely higher. Qui’s comments were published following the Chinese military newspaper ending its eight-months-long silence on February 19 over the number of casualties, announcing honours for five Chinese soldiers, four of whom had died during a border skirmish with Indian troops in the Galwan Valley in June. Indian media reported that at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the conflict. 

Qiu worked with the weekly newspaper, Economic Observer until 2015, and had 2.5 million followers on his Weibo account, which has subsequently been suspended by the platform. 

At least three people have been arrested for allegedly publishing insulting comments on social media against the Chinese soldiers who were killed in the border conflict. In addition to Qiu, Chinese state-run media outlet, Global Times, said a blogger surnamed Yang and a 28-year-old surnamed Chen have also been detained by the authorities.

The IFJ said: “Freedom of expression is a universal right that every Chinese citizen is entitled to. The IFJ condemn the arrest based on unfounded charges and call on the Chinese authorities to release Qiu immediately.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram