China’s Latest Twitter Criminal

Zhai Xiaobing with Ai Weiwei.

Even beyond China’s Great Firewall, Twitter is not always a safe haven for the country’s more outspoken critics. Just before the 18th Party Congress began, Zhai Xiaobing, a fund manager in Beijing, was arrested for a tweet deemed to “spread false terrorist information” (涉嫌散布虚假恐怖信息):

#SpoilerTweet #Enter-at-your-own-peril “Final Destination 6” has arrived. In which the Great Hall of the People collapses all of a sudden. All 2,000+ people meeting there died except for 7 of them. But afterwards, the seven die one after another in bizarre ways. Is it a game of God, or the wrath of Death? How will 18, the mysterious number, unlock the gate of Hell? Premieres globally on November the 8th to bring you an earthshaking experience! (translated by Yaxue Cao)

Zhai has not been released since his November 7 detention. An online petition [zh] for his release, signed by prominent Chinese activists such as Ai Weiwei and Hu Jia, has collected 419 signatures as of this posting. “We hope the the Beijing police shows a sense of humor and do not create a big incident out of a small issue,” writes petition author Bei Feng (Wen Yunchao). “In particular, do not ruin the image of the new leadership soon after the 18th Party Congress.” Zhai’s is not the first Twitter-related arrest in China.

Zhai, whose Twitter handle is @Stariver, studied ancient (pre-Qin) literature at Peking University, and formerly worked in the media. His acerbic tweets make no excuses for the violence and corruption in China, while images of armed police in Lhasa streets and protests in Hong Kong against patriotic education mingle with cat and food photos. Yaxue Cao of Seeing Red in China writes, “In Twitter’s Chinese community, @Stariver is known for his cool and biting comments about current events in China that cut the froth and burst false ‘hopes.’ He is also known for the depth of his knowledge in classics.”

CDT Chinese has collected some of Zhai’s more urgent tweets, translated here by Mengyu Dong:

 

Stariver: If not in consideration of biodiversity, I believe God wouldn’t have created those beasts, the “old friends of the Chinese people.”

 

 

Stariver: All levels of Internet policemen and little secretaries coordinated together, used their united will as strength and devoted to disaster relief work. They kept the number of victims to 37, and composed a faithful song of praise with their youth and ardor.

Noticing that the death toll was reported at 37 for multiple incidents across China this summer, netizens call this the “Law of 37” (死亡37定律). Zhai wrote this tweet soon after the Beijing flood.

 

Stariver: The task of the People’s Daily is to dress up China as “white, rich, and beautiful,” the f**king best in the world; the task of the Global Times is to dress up China as a paranoid, as if the whole world is scheming against it; the task of Xinwen Lianbo is to dress up China as a class leader who is moral, intelligent, physically fit, tasteful and socially responsible, and can pair up with partners and help each other to develop.

 

 

Stariver: The violence of the Cultural Revolution was the coercion of the lowest in society by organized gangs, the brutal excitation of humanity’s dark side by essential and programmatic evil. Whoever does not understand this is ignorant of history. The violence among the people is revolt against extortion by gangs and the brutal oppression of the state apparatus, the final line of defense in a system where it is impossible to appeal for justice. Whoever denies this is truly shameless.

 

 

Stariver: The popularity of novels about official circles originates from reader’s pursuit of the mystique of China’s “court” politics, the worship of the “art of conspiracy” in struggles among political gangs, as well as the worship of rent-seeking among politician and businessmen. The only thing it intends to prove is the rationality of officialdom’s rules.

 

Stariver: If someone eats from a bowl of crap he is clutching, yet at the same time complains that the table is not clean, you’ll definitely figure him for a loon. If someone ignores the atrocity of state power, yet shows pathological concern for the cleanliness of the people’s conduct, then he is the loon who eats crap and complains about the dirtiness of the table.

Stariver: 9.18子曰:“吾未见好德如好色者也。”~孔丘局长说:我就没见过在小姐面前还能坚持原则的。#论语今译#   Stariver: (9.18) Confucius said: “I have not seen one who loves virtue as much as he loves beauty.” ~ Bureau Director Confucius said: I have not seen someone who can uphold his principles in the presence of a hooker. #ModernAnalects#

Stariver: The outcome of the “beat black” in Chongqing shows that people support any punishment of any cadre, regardless of when, where, or how. –Chinese re-tweet robot

 

 

Stariver: The martyr pursues democracy; those ambitious among us today will still find him encouraging. The hero seeks liberty; those idealists of tomorrow must pursue it.

 

 

Stariver: Every time I throw away cigarette ashes, it feels like I’m dumping the ashes of my own bones.

First tweet translated by Yaxue Cao. Excerpts from petition translated by Oiwan Lam of Global Voices.