Reuters International

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party said on Monday it will give a former property tycoon only a minor administrative punishment after he wrote microblog posts that criticised government policy.

Microblog portals such as Weibo.com and t.qq.com, among China's most popular, were ordered in February to shut the accounts of Ren Zhiqiang, a retired top executive from a state-controlled property developer who had more than 30 million online followers.

China's Internet regulator had said that Ren, a party member, had been "spreading illegal information".

Chinese media had also accused Ren of making remarks criticising state media and questioning whether taxpayers' money should be used to promote the government.

The Beijing city Xicheng district party committee, where Ren is registered as a party member, said that Ren would be placed on probation within the party for a year.

In a short statement on its website, it said that his posts and other public comments were "wrong" and had "violated the party's line and policies".

"His behaviour seriously violated the party's political discipline, and it has been decided to give comrade Ren Zhiqiang the punishment of administrative punishment within the party for a year," it said.

The committee did not elaborate. It had previously said he would be punished in accordance with party rules.

It was not been possible to reach Ren for comment.

The government routinely censors the Internet, blocking many sites deemed to have undermined the rule of the Communist Party or threatened stability, including global sites such as Facebook and Google's main search engine and Gmail service.

Authorities have launched numerous operations to combat illegal online behaviour, from pornography to gambling.

This year, President Xi Jinping toured the country's top three state new organisations - Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily and China Central Television - and asked them to toe the party line.

Since assuming office in late 2012, Xi has overseen a crackdown on rights groups, especially lawyers, that has drawn international condemnation.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard)

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