Frank Hsieh banned from Weibo after free speech post
By Enru Lin ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- China-based microblogging platform Sina Weibo (微博) deleted the account of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday, ostensibly over a post on free speech.
February 21, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
In a message dated Wednesday morning, Hsieh said that freedom of speech is “not about the freedom to criticize powerful officials, but about whether you will lose this freedom after criticizing them.”
Hsieh's account went offline early afternoon the same day. Attempts to access the blog were met with an error message that said the account is down “due to a status abnormality.”
Hsieh said he does not know why the account is inaccessible, but that “it could be hackers.” Asked if he plans to open a new account, Hsieh responded that he needs more information about the situation.
At the time of its removal, Hsieh's Weibo was three weeks old, with 21 posts and over 60,000 followers. Just 24 hours earlier, Hsieh had verified the account and announced it during a local radio interview.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said the incident shows that “Taiwan people” should not hold China up to “the wrong expectations.”
“From this incident, we can appreciate the value of Taiwan's freedom and democracy, as well as the difference between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan people should truly value what they have, and not hold the wrong expectations for mainland China,” said Su after the Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday.
Su, who has been slow to embrace Hsieh's recent efforts across the Strait, said through a spokesman that he has no plans to open a Weibo of his own.
“However, Weibo is a tool for social networking, an avenue for communication and a way to dialogue with the common people. It's a good thing,” added DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲).
Hours before the ban, Hsieh had been upbeat on the possibilities of the Twitter-like microblogging platform, calling it “the best way to get to know Chinese civilians.”
“When it comes to China, it's important to not just visit the officials, but to interact with the common people,” he told reporters at the DPP's Taipei headquarters.
Hsieh said he has gained many China-based followers, many of whom appear to be sympathetic. “Humanity is the same all over. Every society has its warm stories and bad people,” he said.
“The account is part of my effort to learn three new things every year,” he added. “For the Year of the Little Dragon, I decided to learn blogging.”
Earlier this week, Weibo made headlines when it banned the account of Taiwanese tycoon Kai-Fu Lee (李開復) for three days.