To criticize the party online is a crime. The Supreme Court warned the users, that for spreading rumors anyone can get up to three years in prison. This is not just an idle threat. A Beijing TV station showed a confession by a popular blogger taken into custody. He confessed that he had committed “immoral acts.” The new rules are designed to protect people from defamation, the government says. But, according to experts, the goal is to take control of the new media.
Beijing is tightening rules governing the transfer of information and commentary on the Internet. According to a spokesman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor’s Office, the authors of microblogs who spread false information and defamatory comments can be sentenced to three years in prison. And that’s not the most severe punishment for perpetrators. The main CPC media outlet, the “People’s Daily” newspaper, explained, that those who spread false information online in order to “provoke a serious disorder,” face up to ten years in prison. However, for a single post, that did not draw a response, there will be no persecution. The charges will be brought against the authors of the “defamatory comments” that were read by 5,000 people or were published 500 times.
The new rules are aimed against detractors who “caused damage to public order or national interests, causing massive unrest, inciting an ethnic and religious conflict,” says a representative of the Supreme Court.
The Chinese law enforcement back up their words with their deeds. The Central TV has already showed the first perpetrator, who acted against the interests of the people. It appeared to be an investor and blogger Charles Xue, whose audience numbered about 12 million. He was arrested for allegedly trying to persuade a prostitute to take part in an orgy.
But during the ten minute program the incident with a prostitute was not even mentioned. Xue, with handcuffs on his wrists, recounted how he brought “immoral and illegal” motives into the Chinese Internet. “I felt like the emperor, appealing directly to millions of fans. This is great feeling.” After bashing himself, the defendant called the new rules governing online behavior fair.
Pang Xii, the founder of the country’s largest private company engaged in real estate transactions, also rushed to approve the new rules. He often criticized the government, particularly on issues of concern to a lot of people. His site is followed by 16 million people. Pan said he wholeheartedly supports the party.
In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Ville Gelbras, a Professor of the MSU Institute of Asia and Africa, said that in China, “the younger generation has lost faith in the ideals of the party. It can see that the officials enrich themselves, they all want money here and now. Disappointed in the communist postulates, people found the vent on the Internet. There, sometimes hiding behind false names, they can discuss directly the sore problems.”
China’s situation is similar to that in Russia. Internet has become a forum to express discontent and protest. This is something the authorities don’t like. That’s why they tighten screws. However, in this regard Beijing is far more advanced than Moscow, the expert concluded.