William Wan washingtonpost.com BEIJING — Chinese state television on Sunday broadcast a startling video of a famous blogger in handcuffs, renouncing his Web posts and saying how dangerous the Internet would be if left uncontrolled by the government. The 10-minute news report featuring Charles Xue — a Chinese American businessman and one of China’s most popular bloggers — was the latest step in what appears to be asystematic campaign to intimidate online opinion leaders against speaking too freely or critically of the government. “It gratified my vanity greatly,” Xue said of the Internet. “I got used to my influence online and the power of my personal opinions .?.?. and I forgot who I am.” Chinese authorities have increasingly been broadcasting interviews after big-name arrests, forcing suspects to confess publicly to alleged crimes prior to trial or conviction. Several businessmen arrested in recent weeks have had their taped confessions aired nationally.Some legal critics have likened the practice to a Mao-era style of justice, when guilt was never in doubt, self-confessions were routine and the goal was to make public examples of the accused. Few online opinion leaders could serve as a better example than Xue, a venture capitalist whose liberal posts had won him 12 million followers on a weibo microblogging site, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Xue was arrested three weeks ago on charges of hiring a prostitute. He was jailed at a time when several other online activists were arrested. Doubts about the validity of his case were so widespread online that Beijing police issued denials that he had been set up. Authorities had earlier broadcast a report onXue’s solicitation charges, but Sunday’s segment seemed intended to curb the huge online influence he has accumulated. Chinese officials have condemned the postings of Xue and others as rumor-mongering, and Xue endorsed party leaders’ views with a long and detailed confession. to read more click here: washingtonpost.com
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