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Inside China: Internet crackdown on opinion leaders

- - Thursday, September 19, 2013

Commentators in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are cheering the government crackdown on online opinion leaders.

In August, Beijing launched a roundup of Chinese bloggers with large numbers of online followers, some numbering in the tens of millions. It started with the arrests of China's leading muckraking bloggers Qin Huohuo and Yang Xiuyu on charges of "rumormongering."

Early this month, Chinese-American blogger Charles Xue, who has more than 20 million followers, was arrested and accused of "indulgence in sex parties with a prostitute" in what was widely speculated to be a setup.

Beijing's propaganda apparatus immediately went into high gear to demonize Mr. Xue. China Central TV's ideological, 30-minute evening political news program devoted more than three minutes to hyping his arrest and criminal accusations.

Mr. Xue then was paraded on national television in a 10-minute, prime-time segment that included confessions detailing his "rumormongering" schemes.

The crackdown delighted some military hawks, many of whom often are mocked by the bloggers, who regard military commentators as narrow-minded ultranationalists.

"The arrests of the Qin Huohuo and Yang Xiuyu criminal groups by the Beijing police are indeed deliciously delightful, greatly crowd-pleasing and moral boosting," exclaimed Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan.

The general has been dubbed "Dr. Strangelove" by Westerners because of his hawkish views on the U.S., Japan and "little countries" he regards as challengers to China's ambitions.

PLA air force Senior Col. Dai Xu, a leading conspiracy theorist, wrote on his blog that "60 years ago, the Chinese People's Volunteers [troops in the Korean War] valiantly smashed and defeated the strategic threats posed by the Western allies in Korea; today, the Chinese people's righteous force is launching another counteroffensive and is wiping out all these vicious forces threatening China's security and stability."

Col. Dai called the arrested bloggers "bogus American devils and bogus Japanese devils" and "reactionaries" assisted by Western media that are part of a scheme to destroy China's communist government.

He ended his blog entry with lyrics from the PLA anthem: "Fearless and unyielding, to fight bravely, until all the gangs of reactionaries are wiped out. The banner of Mao Zedong flutters high!"

AIRCRAFT PLANT NEGLIGENCE

In a rare public confirmation of China's poor industrial quality standards, a leading military aircraft manufacturer recently published a scathing report detailing cases of negligence and fraud in the state-owned aircraft manufacturing industry.

The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group issued the report "Quality Revelations," which documents 16 cases of quality-control issues related to the company's products since July 2012.

Although state-run media noted that similar reports have been issued on a regular basis since 2000, the latest report marks the first time the public was informed of problems at one of the largest state-owned conglomerates.

"Our customers are not happy about the insufficient awareness among our employees of product quality," says the report. "This has resulted in mass recall and recycle of our products, incidents of fraud, and omissions of required manufacturing procedures."

The report also notes that poor quality control and fraud have endangered aviation safety and created excessive toxic waste.

Chengdu produces China's J-10 fighter jets and the J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter.

Chengdu also is a key supplier of parts and maintenance services to Western aircraft companies such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Airbus and Dassault.

It is the Chinese licensee for McDonnell Douglass' MD-80 and MD-90 aircraft.

Miles Yu's column appears Fridays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com and @Yu_miles.