"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Friday, February 15, 2019

Communists Target Twitter Users Critical of Venezuela's Maduro

(RFA)  -  Authorities in China have been targeting Twitter users who post or retweet articles or comments critical of the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, RFA has learned.

Zhao Weidong, a Twitter user from the northern province of Shaanxi, was called in for questioning by police in the provincial capital Xi'an and fined after he forwarded a post to social media critical of the country's beleaguered authoritarian government.

He was issued with an administrative fine of 500 yuan on Jan. 29 for retweeting "false information," according to a copy of the fine notification seen by RFA.

Zhao, who tweets as "Zhao Su" @ctm10001, retweeted a Jan. 20 tweet from the U.S.-based account @brother_chui that asked "How did Venezuela go from being the richest democracy in the world to a totalitarian socialist state?"

"Well, we have [Chinese president Xi Jinping] to thank for that, forexporting the evils of communism to the whole world!" the tweet said.

It said that since Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro had taken power, he had revised the constitution, brought in media controls, locked updissidents and massacred protesters, as well as "importing ... Chinese surveillance systems."

Repeated attempts to contact Zhao for comment were unsuccessful onMonday.

Online free speech activist Wu Bin, known by his internet nickname Xiucai Jianghu, said he had also been approached by Chinese state security police over a tweet he sent about Zhao's fine.

"The state security police told me to delete the tweet, so I deleted it," said Wu, who spent 13 days in administrative detention in December over his last critical tweet. "It's ridiculous; now you don't just get fined for criticizing our own [government], you can get fined for criticizing a foreign country, too."

"Our relationship with Venezuela is too cozy by far, to the extent that they have to dig the knife in on behalf of our so-called friend," Wu said. "There is no freedom of expression in this country, nor any sense of safety."

A Twitter user surnamed Wang said the ruling Chinese Communist Partydoesn't want the Venezuelan opposition movement to influence its ownpeople, and has been censoring news of developments in the country since the international recognition of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó.

"The incident involving Zhao Su from Xi'an ... shows that the Chinese Communist regime's so-called self-confidence is actually non-existant," Wang said. "They are in a state of high alert because of the changes in the political situation in Venezuela."

"That's how ridiculous things get in an authoritarian state," he said.

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