You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Chinese detain civil society activist

BEIJING — A Chinese businessman who supports a grass-roots group promoting civil society was detained by police on Friday on suspicion of gathering crowds to disturb public order, his friends said, in a sign the government is stepping up efforts to crack down on the loosely organized movement.

Xiao Shu, a family friend, said police officers took venture capitalist Wang Gongquan from his Beijing home for questioning and formally detained him several hours later.

Continue reading below

‘‘We believe this is an absurd allegation. It is impossible for Mr. Wang Gongquan to disturb order at any public place,’’ his supporters said in a written statement, noting that Wang has been advocating peaceful social changes.

Beijing police did not respond to a faxed request for comment on the case.

Wang’s detention followed the detentions of two leading members of the New Citizens movement — Xu Zhiyong and Yang Maodong. Yang is better known by his penname of Guo Feixiong.

‘‘This is an important sign that Beijing wants to nip the New Citizens movement in the bud,’’ Xiao Shu said. ‘‘In the past, the authorities were ambivalent toward civil society, but now how they are treating Gongquan will send a clear signal that they consider the New Citizens movement as a hostile force that should be suppressed.’’

The group’s members have done little more than lobby for rights of rural children and public disclosure of officials’ assets.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.