Top China blogger praises social media despite ban

One of China's most popular micro-bloggers -- with tens of millions of followers -- praised social media Tuesday as the country's least-censored method of expression, even as he was blocked from using it.

Kai-Fu Lee, a former head of Google China, drew widespread attention after announcing on Sunday he faced a three-day ban from China's popular Twitter-like Weibo services, Sina and Tencent, where he has a whopping 30 million and 24 million followers respectively.

China's far-reaching censorship authorities block or delete online content deemed to be too sensitive and control all domestic media outlets to varying degrees.

Lee did not say why he might have been banned, although some media reports referred to discussion online that he had criticised Jike, a search engine affiliated with state media.

Calls to a Sina manager and a Sina spokesperson were not answered on Tuesday.

A Taiwan-born American who now runs a capital venture fund in Beijing, Lee began posting instead on Twitter -- officially banned but accessible via workarounds -- and published an essay championing online openness on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

"Social media is infinitely more open than other media in China," he wrote. "Sina Weibo has become the media of choice that people flock to find or share information, and to voice or hear opinion."

Lee listed a few of his efforts to raise public awareness on the forums, from shaming short sellers who "slam innocent Chinese companies" to commentating on Taiwan's presidential vote "to give people a feel of what a democratic election would be like".

"This is only a partial list of my involvement, and my involvement is only a tiny fraction of the overall social media community," he wrote.

"Regardless of any setbacks and obstacles, I am confident that China is building up a significant population of socially responsible netizens, who will make a difference to the future of China."