China: Celebrities to promote virtue

Weibo, Reuters
Image caption Millions of young Chinese people use social media sites.

The official in charge of the internet in China has called for celebrities to promote virtue among their followers on social media.

The official, Lu Wei, said famous people should inform against any activities that could be harmful.


Joe Boyle


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Lu Wei's comments appear to have been provoked by an incident last month in which a popular Chinese singer, Wu Hongfei, was arrested after she published a message threatening to blow up a local government building. She was eventually released, but her message sparked a huge debate about freedom of speech.

Lu Wei is trying to enlist that sort of influence in the hope of pleasing both the Communist Party, which is desperate to maintain power, and millions of young internet users, equally desperate for the freedom to say whatever they want.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese people use the internet, and its influence has worried the Communist Party for years, particularly when the central government becomes a target. For example, in March last year, a number of websites carried rumours that there was a coup going on in Beijing. All of them were shut down and their owners were arrested. For China's leaders, controlling the internet has become a routine part of controlling the country.


Listen to the words

provoked: diprovokasi, dipicu

threatening: mengancam

sparked: memicu

freedom of speech: kebebasan berpendapat

desperate: sangat ingin

target: sasaran

rumours: desas-desus

coup: kup, kudeta

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