Chinese police detained venture capitalist Wang Gongquan, telling him he was being summoned for questioning on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in public places,” the South China Morning Post reported.
The report of Wang’s detention today came after he signed an open letter calling for the release of Xu Zhiyong, a prominent lawyer and rights activist who was detained in July, according to a copy of the letter on the website of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project.
Word of Wang’s detention prompted widespread responses from Chinese users of Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo service. Huayuan Property Co. Chairman Ren Zhiqiang, who has more than 15 million followers, posted on his account, “Gongquan, where are you now, Gongquan?”
China’s Communist Party has sought to increase its control of the Internet as microblog services such as Weibo make information harder to censor and activists take to the web to accuse officials of corruption. The nation’s Supreme Court issued a legal interpretation this week allowing authorities to jail Internet users for as much as three years if they post online comments that are deemed defamatory.
Calls to Wang’s mobile phone today prompted a message saying the handset was turned off. The Beijing police department’s news office didn’t immediately responded to a faxed requested for comment that it requested.
Before being detained Xu had helped start a group called the New Citizens’ Movement that met across the country. He called it a social movement to fight corruption and the abuse of power and to construct a new order of fairness and justice, according to a May 2012 article he wrote.
Wang founded CDH Venture in 2005, the venture capital unit of CDH Investments, according to the parent’s website. Prior to that he was a general partner at IDG Technology Venture Investment, and previously one of the founders of Vantone Industry Group. His notoriety surged in May 2011 when he used Sina Weibo to announce he was leaving his wife for his mistress.
“He is an extraordinary entrepreneur of this country and the consciousness of this society,” Wang Ying, chairwoman of the Beijing Zhongheng Juxin Investment Fund Management Co., posted on her Weibo account. “I beg the Chinese government and the ruling party to treat Mr. Wang Gongquan fairly.”
— With assistance by Henry Sanderson