A Chinese netizen has been fined and detained for 10 days after criticising a top former nuclear scientist who purportedly did not return home for 30 years in order to protect technological secrets.

Hailed as “the Father of Chinese Nuclear Submarines,” 92-year-old Huang Xuhua was celebrated on state channel CCTV’s New Year gala last Friday for his contributions to the development of nuclear weaponry over the past century.

Huang Xuhua
Huang Xuhua (R) and the Weibo post criticising him (L). Photo: CCTV screenshot/Weibo.

State outlet Xinhua earlier reported that he had not returned home for 30 years – between 1957 and 1986. His family members did not know where he was, or what he was working on, until his mother read about him in a Shanghai magazine in 1987.

But last week, Weibo user ZhuoLawyera6j_ – a former lawyer in Shandong province – called Huang an “unfilial bastard” for not returning home.

“The old bastard Huang Xuhua who did not contact his parents for 30 years comes out shamelessly again!” wrote Zhuo in response to Huang’s CCTV tribute.

Filial piety is a Confucian notion which values respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors – during Lunar New Year, Chinese people are generally expected to return home to see their families.

Nuclear submarine
A Chinese Han-class nuclear submarine.

On Sunday, the Cyberspace Affairs Office of Linshu county announced that Zhuo was to be detained for 10 days and fined RMB 500 (HK$617) for his posts.

“Weibo user ZhuoLawyera6j_’s public speech was an insult against Chinese Academy of Engineering scholar Huang Xuhua and created an extremely negative effect,” wrote the Office on Weibo.

The Office cited Article 42 of the Administrative Punishment Law – relating to matters such as insults, threats and defamation – as the basis for the punishment.

By Tuesday, all posts had been deleted from Zhuo’s Weibo account, aside from reposts of announcements detailing his punishment.

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Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.