BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party has expelled a leading internet censor and accused him of a range of crimes and rule breaking from corruption to failing to properly guide public opinion.
Peng Bo had been deputy head of the Leading Group for the Prevention and Handling of Cults, a body set up after the party launched a sweeping crackdown against the Falun Gong meditation sect that it viewed as a threat to its authority.
An investigation found that Peng’s “ideals and beliefs collapsed, and that he had been disloyal to the party, deviated from the Party Central Committee decisions on the online public opinion struggle (and) gave up on positions taken on managing the internet,” the party’s disciplinary watchdog body said on its website.
Peng also “engaged in superstitious activities and illegally received large amounts of property,” said the notice, dated Tuesday. Along with being expelled from the ruling party, he is stripped of all pay and benefits and is being referred for criminal prosecution for numerous violations of discipline and on suspicion of bribery, it said.
The public announcement was unusual both for the sensitivity of Peng’s position and the accusations of losing faith and defiance of party orders. Such notices are generally brief and provide little information of the charges, almost always related to some form of corruption.
China heavily censors the internet and social media platforms for content not in alignment with party policies or that questions the party and state media’s version of history and current events or its tight controls over religious expression.
Party officials and internet companies are expected guide public opinion by deleting postings seen as deviant, while content seen as insulting the party or nation can result in a massive backlash from online nationalists and possible criminal prosecution.
President and party leader Xi Jinping has also led a years-long crackdown on corruption that has ensnared numerous serving and retired officials in what some see as politically motivated prosecutions.