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Chinese Twitter user's arrest for criticizing government sparks online protests

Beijing, Thu, 22 Nov 2012 ANI

Beijing, Nov. 22 (ANI): Hundreds of web users have signed a petition demanding the release of a man arrested for criticizing China's authorities on Twitter.

Zhai Xiaobing, who is on Twitter bearing the name @Stariver, was stopped by police days before the new Chinese leaders were confirmed on 15 November.

In a tweet, the account compared the Communist Party 18th National Congress to horror film Final Destination.

In it, characters at first escape death, but still end up dying one by one.

"#SpoilerTweet# #EnterAtYourPeril# Final Destination 6 to arrive soon," the tweet, posted on 4 November, read.

"The Great Hall of the People suddenly collapses, only seven of more than 2,000 people inside survive," it read.

"Later, one-by-one the survivors die in strange ways. Is it the game of God, or the Devil venting his wrath?" it added.

According to the BBC, all the numbers mentioned in the tweet make reference to the leadership handover, and the new leadership consists of seven members, one of whom is the newly appointed Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

The Miyun detention centre has confirmed Mr Zhai was there, having been arrested because 'he wrote a micro-blog post containing false information on the Internet', the Wall Street Journal reports.

Chinese authorities closely monitor domestic social-media sites, including the Twitter equivalent micro-blog Sina Weibo.

One analyst said that Zhai's arrest was significant because it had happened after a post on Twitter, which is officially blocked in China, and not on Weibo.

"It did surprise me at first - it's a white-collar guy that seemed to have a misfortune to be arrested and made an example of, as there were many posts on Weibo worse than his," Duncan Clark, chairman of consultancy BDA China said.

"But the story is significant on a whole other level because he used Twitter and not Sina," Clark added. (ANI)

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