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China: Political blogger arrested, computer confiscated

Guo Quan, co-founder of China's Netizen Party and litigant in a recent lawsuit against Yahoo!, had his computer confiscated over the weekend and is now halfway through a ten-day detention period. According to the Guardian newspaper, Guo's arrest, carried out as he was walking his son to school, comes “because of false information he posted online.”

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Guo with his son. (Boxun photo)

From the Guardian report:

It was unclear which comments upset the authorities. Guo has written a string of critical articles on the communist one-party political system. He was stripped of his professorial post at Nanjing university last year.

In the past week, he is said to have raised questions about the emergency services’ response to the quake and the safety of nuclear facilities in Sichuan. Fellow members of his small party believe his detention is connected to last week's disaster.

Would that be the quake that Chinese officials admit has left hundreds of dams damaged? Or the one in which the government first said nuclear facilities in the area had been affected, then declined to give details, leaving even nuclear scientists skeptical of later claims that those facilities are now under control?

Guo Quan's final ‘Democracy Sounding’ essay in his lengthy series prior to his arrest gives a technical analysis of the threat posed to local residents by the hundreds of dams in the immediate earthquake zone, and proposes that inhabitants of the area be moved to higher locations, a somewhat redundant conclusion given that exactly such steps are already being taken.

Democracy Sounding part 218, prior to the one above, is entitled “China's New Democracy Party urges the Communist Party of China to quickly release a safety report on Sichuan's nuclear facilities”.

Has the Chinese government, as many foreign media are saying this week, truly demonstrated maturity in its handling of the earthquake disaster, through tolerating discussion and even criticism of its response? It depends who you ask. Former journalist and widely-read Bullog blogger Wen Yuanchao, for instance, reports that as of May 16, at least seventeen netizens had been investigated for comments made online: two of which have been arrested, two made to write declarations of wrongdoing, and with the remaining thirteen forced to undergo disciplinary lectures.

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