Sep 23, 2011
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China luxury watch blogger forced to stop posting

Sep 23, 2011

Beijing, Sept 23, 2011 (AFP) - A Chinese blogger praised for posting pictures of Chinese officials and their luxury watches online said Friday he had been forced out of action due to outside "pressure".

(AFP/Getty Images/Archives, Joe Raedle)

The Internet activist, known by his account name "Huaguoshanzonshuji" on Sina's Weibo -- a Chinese equivalent of Twitter -- has been posting pictures of government officials, stating the brand and the value of their wristwatch.

His commitment to exposing the officials was even praised by the state-run Xinhua news agency earlier this month which said the fight against corruption should follow his method.

But he told AFP his Sina accounts were shut down this week and accounts he registered afterwards with other Chinese microblog service providers had either been closed or had their names changed.

"I believe (the service providers) did not mean to do it. They may have come under some pressure," said the activist, who identified himself as Daniel Wu.

It is unclear who the pressure came from, but China, which has the world's largest online population with nearly 500 million users, regularly blocks content it deems politically sensitive as part of a vast censorship system.

Wu said he would stop surveying watches "for now", hinting that it may be for self-protection.

But he said he would resume the practice once the dust had settled.

"I am not a corruption fighter... but I think this (survey) is a personal choice that should be respected," he said.

"Also I believe transparent information is the best solution to problems."

The idea for the survey came to Wu after a deadly high-speed rail crash in July in eastern China which killed 40 people and prompted a storm of public outrage.

In a report on the accident, the activist noticed railways minister Sheng Guangzu wearing a 70,000 yuan ($11,000) Rolex and one of his deputies, Lu Dongfu, sporting a 50,000 yuan model.

Wu also posted a picture of Sun Jingmiao, president of the National Development and Reform Commission in the eastern province of Zhejiang, wearing a Rolex worth 70,000 yuan.

And Zhou Wenzhang, vice president of the China National School of Administration, was seen wearing a watch identified by Wu as a Piaget Emperador estimated to be worth 100,000 yuan.

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