Kaifu Lee quit as the head of Google in China to start doing his own thing. Since then, he's become quite a visible face in the country and has been quite outspoken on plenty of topics including criticizing the government. That has gotten him "muted" on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo for three days, he revealed on Twitter.People getting their accounts deleted or temporarily blocked is nothing new in China. But few people have more than 30 million followers.
He has revealed that he wouldn't be able to post anything on the Chinese websites, so he invited his followers to join him on Twitter. Twitter is blocked in China but can still be accessed via VPNs or similar methods.
Lee has close to one million followers on Twitter, significantly less than the 30.4 million he has on Sina Weibo alone.
It's unclear what exactly got him into trouble this time, some are speculating that it may have to do with his recent criticism of Jike, a state-run search engine that is both over budget and underperforming badly.
He also voiced his support for Guangzhou-based newspaper last month, in a squabble with the government over freedom of the press.
It's not his first brush with authorities, in any case. His large following is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Authorities are apprehensive about deleting his accounts altogether, but anything he says is also heavily scrutinized. He should be coming back to weibo on February 20.
China's booming social networking scene, though heavily censored, is still more open than most other mediums and certainly more than the press.
Several people have gained a huge following on these sites and they're using it to make their voice heard, sometimes touching on taboo subjects. It was hoped that the new Chinese leadership would be more open, but it's clear that, if anything, it's even more threatened by the internet.