Twenty-six-year-old blogger and former web editor at qq.com, Zhang Jialong, said he was dismissed from Tencent after he’d taken part in a meeting earlier this year discussing internet freedom with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Previously we reported on the 40-minute-long February 15 meeting held in the Jingguang Center where a group of Chinese bloggers gathered to speak about internet in China. Attendees included writers Wang Keqin, Ma Xiaolin, Wang Chong and Zhang, who wrote about the aftermath of the meeting in a blog post recently translated by China Change:
On May 20th, I was notified by the department head at Tencent that I was being suspended, citing radical expressions I made in my meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this year and the propaganda directives I publicized online. I was told that I would receive a final decision after Tencent coordinated with the propaganda authorities.
On May 23rd, Tencent’s HR department notified me of the termination of my labor contract for “leaking business secrets and other confidential and sensitive information.” On the same day when I went back to collect my personal belongings, I found that my desktop had already been removed without my knowledge. Nor did anyone give me a reasonable explanation for what might have been done to my computer during my suspension from the 20th to the 23rd.
Zhang said he had gathered questions from netizens online prior and posed a few during the meeting.
“Will you get together with the Chinese who aspire for freedom” and help us “tear down this great firewall that blocks the Internet?” Zhang had asked.
He voiced concern over China’s “prisoners of conscience”, specifically Xu Zhiyong, a human-rights activist who was sentenced to four years in prison a month before for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”. He also asked if Kerry would visit Liu Xia, wife of jailed dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. She had been suffering from illness and was reportedly refused overseas medical help around that time.
On February 16, the Chinese propaganda authorities ordered all web portals to delete reports about “the U.S. Secretary of State meeting with four Chinese social media big Vs to talk about ‘internet freedom.’”
Meanwhile, I became a sensitive word on Tencent Weibo. Though I could still log in my Weibo account and post, but a search for my name would yield “search result cannot be displayed according to relevant laws, regulations and policies.”
Zhang further explained why he leaked directives issued to media outlets by China’s propaganda organs. “By publicizing orders from the ‘Ministry of Truth’ online, I want to tear open the iron curtain and reveal to the world how censorship of press and expression is carried out in China. Of course this irks the authorities and is regarded as an open challenge to their power.”
China Digital Times collects and translates many of these directives for its series “Directives from the Ministry of Truth“.
Zhang now says that he’s looking for a new job and hopes the dismissal won’t be detrimental in his search.
Either way, guy’s got some cojones. We wish him luck.