Social media helps free kidnapped Chinese writer

RNW archive

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Independent Chinese commentator and writer Ruan Yuanhua has for some time been campaigning for greater transparency about the salaries of senior Communist Party officials.

His calls for top figures to make their incomes public have clearly been unwelcome in some quarters – and on New Year’s Day he was kidnapped by unknown assailants. A message about the incident was posted on a Chinese social media platform. RNW’s China desk then reposted the message on its own platforms. The report was picked up and re-tweeted by hundreds of our followers.

RNW interviewed Ruan Yuanhua recently after he contacted us to say he had been released. He told us it would be unwise to reveal details of his kidnappers’ identities, but did say: “The abduction was connected to my earlier calls for senior officials to make their incomes public. I expected something like this. I knew it would happen sooner or later.” He added that he did not resist his kidnappers in order to avoid physical violence.

Pressure works
The writer posted a message thanking RNW on WeiBo (the Chinese version of Twitter), and told us that the public support of tweeters and media organisations was responsible for “putting pressure on my kidnappers and leading to my eventual release”. Writing about the incident on his blog, (Chinese language) Ruan also published a screenshot of our origanal Weibo posting.