China / Hot Issues

Apology ordered for crass postings

By Xin Hua (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-21 08:08

A court in Beijing on Tuesday ordered internet celebrity Sun Jie and Hong Kong-based herbal drink maker Jiaduobao Group, to apologize to the family of deceased war hero Qiu Shaoyun for social media posts that the court said harmed Qiu's reputation and honor.

Daxing District People's Court said that Sun and JDB must publicly apologize on five consecutive days and pay 1 yuan ($0.15) as compensation for mental suffering to Qiu Shaohua, the hero's brother.

Chinese children learn about Qiu in school. As a soldier in the Korean War (1950-53), Qiu, 26, was concealed in the grass on Hill 391 before an attack by Chinese forces, but the US Army dropped an incendiary bomb nearby. Instead of moving and betraying his position, and that of hundreds of fellow soldiers, Qiu burned to death.

Skeptical of the official story, Sun Jie mocked Qiu Shaoyun as "barbecued meat" in a post in 2013 on Sina Weibo to more than 6 million followers, saying that "consumers refused to pay ... as it was only half roasted".

"They think the barbecued meat of Lai Ning is better," he said, referring to a 14-year-old Chinese middle school student who died trying to help put out a forest fire in 1988.

The post caused a stir before Sun deleted it the next day.

In April 2015, JDB, the beverage maker, referenced the controversy again by promising in its own Weibo post to give 100,000 cans of herbal tea to Sun should he open a barbecue shop.

It issued a statement of apology quickly after the post, but Qiu Shaoyun's brother sued Sun and JDB in June 2015, demanding "immediate cessation", as well as the "elimination of ill effects" by means of apologies and the payment of 1 yuan for mental distress.

In its verdict, the court said Sun's comments were intentionally derogatory and humiliating.

The spread of such comments online had "a negative influence, harmed public sentiment, undermined the public interest and caused Qiu's family psychological damage", it said.

It added that as a household name in China, JDB had failed to exercise discretion in its marketing and therefore should bear legal responsibility.

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