A Chinese netizen was fined 500 yuan (approximately US$73) for sharing a tweet critical of Venezuela’s socialist government.

Last week Chinese Twitter user Xiucai Jianghu (秀才江湖, @xiucai1911) tweeted out the picture of a document allegedly filed by the Public Security Bureau of Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province. The tweet appears to have been deleted, but images of the document were shared by other twitter users.

” ‘Zhaosu’, a friend of mine from Xi’an, was fined 500 yuan for criticizing Venezuela,” Xiucai’s original tweet said.

Screenshot of the original tweet

Zhaosu had allegedly shared a tweet that blamed Maduro’s socialist government and one-party rule for Venezuela’s economic and political crisis. “How did one of the wealthiest democracies in the world turned into a totalitarian socialist country?” the tweet asked, drawing a parallel between Venezuela and China.

On January 29 officers from Xi’an Public Security Bureau allegedly visited Zhaosu’s home to question him. He was fined 500 yuan on charges of “rumour-mongering.”

In recent years Twitter has become a platform for Chinese citizens to express their opposition to the Communist one-party regime, and especially to president Xi Jinping.

Twitter is blocked in China, but Chinese state-run media have official Twitter accounts with millions of followers.

Under Xi’s leadership China has embarked on a series of reforms and political campaigns that have considerably tightened the state’s grip on civil society.

The first sign of Xi’s return to Mao-style totalitarianism was the adoption in 2013 of a law against “rumour-mongering” online. The law is so vaguely worded that it is de facto an attempt to give a veneer of legality to the suppression of free speech and independent thought.

Xi has demanded absolute loyalty from the media and the judiciary. Last year China’s rubber-stamp legislature abolished presidential term-limits which were designed to prevent one-man rule and personality cult.

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