Police in China have detained two people for posting messages online “insulting” a police officer who was killed on duty.

Qu Yuquan, a 38-year-old police officer in Harbin, was attacked after being called to a brawl at a KTV bar on Friday night, according to a post on the Harbin police’s Weibo account. Qu died from his injuries after being taken to hospital.

Qu Yuquan. Photo: Harbin police Weibo.

After Harbin police posted the news on Weibo, a user with the handle lukehcen0 posted a message “insulting the sacrificed police officer and inciting violent assault of police,” according to the Legal Evening News, a newspaper under a Communist Party media organisation.

“His actions have violated the country’s Public Security Administration Punishments Law,” it said. He was taken in for questioning on Saturday as part of a coordinated effort between police in Beijing and Guangzhou under the direction of the Ministry of Public Security, the paper said.

Another man with the handle Changchun Social Sister who posted a message insulting Qu was also taken in by police in Nanning on Monday. He has admitted to being responsible and the case is under investigation, the police said.

Many on Chinese social media reacted to the posts with outrage, expressing sympathy towards Qu. Police in both Guangzhou and Nanning launched investigations after receiving tip-offs from users, according to mainland media.

Photos: Weibo.

According to screenshots circulated by mainland outlets, lukehcen0 posted: “Anybody who beats or kills police are all heroes?” in response to a post mourning Qu.

Changchun Social Sister said: “Great, his daughter has no one to protect her, it’s new year, haven’t you gotten your retribution?”

The two Weibo accounts are no longer accessible.

One Weibo user named Wu Bin who commented on the incident online told US-backed Radio Free Asia that he thought the controls on online speech were becoming stricter.

“There is no feeling of safety when speaking on the internet, a police car could come to your door and take you away at any moment… I don’t think he [lukehcen0] was inciting violence against police, he was expressing his own viewpoint, he felt that the police are not good – everyone has the right to express their own viewpoint.”

Public anger over police brutality in China flared last April over the death of a young environmentalist in police custody.

Five suspects involved in the incident that resulted in Qu’s death have been taken into police custody.

Catherine Lai

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.