China detains, fines person for military graft rumours

BEIJING - Chinese authorities have detained and fined a person for spreading rumours on the Internet that several high-ranking naval officers are being investigated for corruption, an official news website reported.

The military has been one of the focuses of Chinese President Xi Jinping's sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption, with several senior officers caught up.

The detention, however, underlines the Communist Party's determination to control information about alleged graft cases, which could otherwise become a lightning rod for public dissatisfaction.

The person, from the southern province of Hunan and whose family name was given as Hong, put the rumour on a social media site last week, the website of the Communist Party's official People's Daily said late on Tuesday.

The rumour "had a serious negative impact on the navy's reputation", and the navy complained to police in Beijing and Hunan, the report said.

The Ministry of Defence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hong admitted to being responsible for spreading the rumour and has been fined and sentenced to "administrative detention", the website added, a term which is normally up to 15 days behind bars. It provided no further details.

China keeps a tight rein over the Internet and takes an especially tough line over the spreading of online rumours, worried that if they are believed they could cause panic or undermine social stability.