Wang Gongquan, a Chinese billionaire and venture capitalist-turned rights advocate, has been arrested in Beijing for his online organizing efforts. If Charles Xue’s case is any guide (see: wealthy Chinese venture capitalist-turned rights advocate arrested for online organizing efforts) then Wang is in for some rough times ahead.
Wang was formally arrested on the charges of “gathering crowds to disturb public order,” but many of his colleagues are claiming that the arrest was fueled by Wang’s online human rights work clashing with Xi Jinping’s massive Weibo “rumor” crackdown, as the New York Times reports:
Mr. Wang developed a large following on the Sina Weibo, where word of his arrest spread quickly. Unlike most politically charged arrests and detentions, Mr. Wang’s have been reported by Chinese news outlets. Even before the arrest was widely reported, 18 prominent liberal Chinese academics, writers and businessmen issued a petition on Monday, over the Internet and by e-mail, demanding Mr. Wang’s release.
“No matter what the name of the crime the authorities try to impose on Mr. Wang Gongquan, it is plain to all that this is nothing more than political persecution,” the petition said.
The government appears to have been alarmed at the example that Mr. Wang set by using his great wealth to support controversial causes, like campaigning to erase discriminatory barriers that put rural children at a disadvantage in education, said one of the signatories, Liu Suli, a bookstore owner in Beijing who is a friend of Mr. Wang.
Wang Gongquan was last in the headlines in 2011 when he (very publicly) eloped with his mistress after a particularly good vacation in the USA.
[Image via China Daily]