BEIJING (Reuters) – Police in China have arrested an influential blogger and are holding a cartoonist in a widening crackdown on online “rumour-mongering”, friends and a lawyer for one of them said on Thursday.
Hundreds of people have been detained since August, say Chinese media and rights groups, as the government has stepped up its campaign to combat rumours. Most have been released, but some are still being held on criminal charges.
The latest moves targeting the bloggers appear to suggest the new government, led by President Xi Jinping, is expanding its crackdown on dissent, although some critics have warned the move could backfire on Communist Party leaders.
“The use of these dictatorship tools to combat the criticism and grievances within civil society could be counterproductive,” said Zhang Lifan, a historian, adding it could fuel mistrust.
“It may not be beneficial for maintaining the regime.”