Two founders of Chinese watchdog websites have been detained as China’s Sixth Plenum convenes in Beijing.

Huang Qi is the founder of 64 Tianwang, a website which disseminates information about protest incidents in China. He was taken away by police in Sichuan on Monday evening, according to Huang’s colleague, cited by US-backed news service Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Huang Qi. Photo: RFA.

Huang was released after being detained for 24-hours. He told RFA after his release that the police officers asked him about some of Tianwang’s reports, including those on Chinese president Xi Jinping. The authorities asked him to release statements saying that some of the reports were fake.

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Huang’s house. Photo: Supplied to RFA by neighbour.

A neighbour told RFA that Huang’s home was searched. Photos showed various items scattered on the floor. Huang’s computer and phone disappeared, the neighbour said.

Before his detention, Huang told the news website that he received a phone call from police requesting a meeting. They did not tell him why they wanted to meet, but Huang said he knew that it was related to the plenum. The authorities wanted to restrict his personal freedom and prevent him from posting information about rights incidents online, he said.

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Huang Qi’s house. Photo: VOA.

At the time, he said that he did not think the authorities would take severe measures to restrict his freedom because its crackdown on citizens during the G20 Summit last month attracted international attention.

The Sixth Plenum is a key meeting for China’s Communist Party. Nearly 400 top members of the party are gathering in Beijing from Monday to Thursday to discuss changes to party structure and management.

liu feiyue
Liu Feiyue. Photo: RFA.

Liu Feiyue, the founder of the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (minshengguancha) website, which also reports on grassroots rights defence incidents, was also taken by police in Hubei on Sunday, reported RFA.

RSF nominee 

64 Tianwang has been nominated for the 2016 NGO Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Prize. The winner will be announced on November 8.

The NGO called for the authorities to release Huang and Liu in a statement on Tuesday.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.