Saturday, October 21, 2006
A Xinhua item dated Oct. 20 reports as follows:
A minor government officer in Southwest China has been arrested for mocking officials in mobile and internet messages, reported Friday's The Beijing News.
Qin Zhongfei, an official with the Pengshui county education commission in Chongqing, sent a satirical poem to several friends by phone and internet in August.
The poem poked fun at three local leading officials for embroiling the county in "fierce conflicts between officials and the people".
Ma Ping, former head of the county Party committee and one of the three officials satirized in the poem, was detained at the end of August on charges of corruption.
Local police visited Qin later that month, ransacked his office and later took away his computer. He was detained on charges of "slander".
During interrogation, Qin insisted that the poem did not target anybody specifically and was not written out of any political motive.
Meng Dehua, deputy Party head of Pengshui county, was quoted as saying that "Qin's problem is serious. It even involves illegal association." But he did not give details to back up the assertion.
Qin has obtained bail and is awaiting trial.
The Southern Weekend report (in Chinese) is here.
This case has the potential to develop into something of a cause celebre; apparently there has been no central government decision to suppress reporting. Let's see what happens.