Chinese Woman Sentenced to Year in Labor Camp Over Tweet

We’re appalled that the Chinese authorities sentenced a woman to a year in a labor camp for retweeting a supposedly anti-Japanese message.  They must release her immediately.

Chinese online activist Cheng Jianping was sentenced to one year of ‘Re-education Through Labour’ on Monday for “disturbing social order”, having retweeted a satirical suggestion on October 17 that the Japanese Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo be attacked.

Cheng disappeared ten days later, on what was to be her wedding day, her whereabouts unknown until it emerged this week that she had been detained and sentenced by local police.

Sentencing someone to a year in a labour camp, without trial, for simply repeating another person’s clearly satirical observation on Twitter demonstrates the level of China’s repression of online expression.

The offending tweet was originally posted by Cheng’s fiancé Hua Chunhui, mocking China’s young nationalist demonstrators who had smashed Japanese products in protest over a maritime incident between China and Japan involving the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.

Hua’s original tweet said “Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago by Guo Quan [an activist and expert on the Nanjing Massacre].  It’s no new trick.  If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you’d immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese Expo pavilion.”

Retweeting the comment as ‘wangyi09’, Cheng Jianping added the phrase “Angry youth, charge!”  The tweet has only been retweeted by three people.

Cheng may be the first Chinese citizen to become a prisoner of conscience on the basis of a single tweet.

Her fiancé Hua Chunhui, who tweets as ‘wxhch’, is not known to have been detained.

“It is possible that Cheng Jianping may have been targeted for her online activism over the last few years and her expressions of support for other Chinese dissidents and activists,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Director for the Asia-Pacific.

According to other Chinese activists on Twitter, Cheng had participated in low-level online activism, including support for imprisoned Nobel Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and imprisoned consumer rights advocate Zhao Lianhai, as well as fundraising in support of other activists.

Twitter is blocked in China but is widely accessed and used, particularly by human rights defenders and their supporters who often use the social-networking platform to quickly organize in support of human rights activists who are detained or tried in court.

Re-education Through Labor is an administrative punishment that can deprive an individual of their liberty for up to 4 years through a decision by the police without a trial by an independent court.

This is yet another reminder that we need to pass the Online Freedom Act.  Please join us today in calling for passage of this legislation.

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16 thoughts on “Chinese Woman Sentenced to Year in Labor Camp Over Tweet

  1. That's pretty messed up. The worst thing that Bill Clinton did during his presidency was sign that damned trade agreement with them. We once had leverage over them and might have been able to actually DO something about their civil & human rights violations. Now they have leverage over US, because of how much of our debt they owe. Our manufacturing jobs are going to them, and in return, our market is flooded with shoddy, sometimes dangerous products made under cruel and inhuman conditions.

    All that being said, the statement she retweeted didn't really sound all that satirical to me.

  2. It is most unfortunate that while we count our economic progressions, our civil progress is not expanding at the same pace as our GDP!

    Freedom of expression – in whatever form: electronic, written, verbal – should be respected, not oppressed!

  3. Of course this sort of paranoia has been flourishing in neighbouring country Thailand.With the repressive and outdated Lese Majeste law.The Thai king seems more than willing to allow the Thai authorities to lock up anyone who dare to criticise him.Meanwhile you have Hilirary Clinton sending this tyrant king cristmas messages,and telling the kings critics to "respect the monarchy".

  4. This does, indeed, suck and it seems to be typical of China and other nations who haven't got the hang of satire or dissent yet. I agree, the statement didn't exactly reek of satire, but it may have lost that flavor in translation to English. Even so, this is an egregious violation of Cheng's rights as a human being and should be roundly condemned.

    The leverage China has on us is in how much they've lent us in the past few decades. This is because US debt is a good risk, regardless of what deficit hawks say. It's a much better risk than private debt like stocks or hedge funds.

    As for Chinese goods, surely there are a lot of cheap toys with lead-based paint and the like dumped on the US market, but there are a lot of US companies that either manufacture their products in China or have them assembled there (e.g. my iPad). It makes for lower-priced electronics, and, given the fact that these are Chinese companies dealing with American companies, it's hard to tell what these relationships are really doing to the US economy.

  5. That’s pretty messed up. The worst thing that Bill Clinton did during his presidency was sign that damned trade agreement with them. We once had leverage over them and might have been able to actually DO something about their civil & human rights violations. Now they have leverage over US, because of how much of our debt they owe. Our manufacturing jobs are going to them, and in return, our market is flooded with shoddy, sometimes dangerous products made under cruel and inhuman conditions.

    All that being said, the statement she retweeted didn’t really sound all that satirical to me.

  6. It is most unfortunate that while we count our economic progressions, our civil progress is not expanding at the same pace as our GDP!

    Freedom of expression – in whatever form: electronic, written, verbal – should be respected, not oppressed!

  7. Of course this sort of paranoia has been flourishing in neighbouring country Thailand.With the repressive and outdated Lese Majeste law.The Thai king seems more than willing to allow the Thai authorities to lock up anyone who dare to criticise him.Meanwhile you have Hilirary Clinton sending this tyrant king cristmas messages,and telling the kings critics to “respect the monarchy”.

  8. This does, indeed, suck and it seems to be typical of China and other nations who haven’t got the hang of satire or dissent yet. I agree, the statement didn’t exactly reek of satire, but it may have lost that flavor in translation to English. Even so, this is an egregious violation of Cheng’s rights as a human being and should be roundly condemned.

    The leverage China has on us is in how much they’ve lent us in the past few decades. This is because US debt is a good risk, regardless of what deficit hawks say. It’s a much better risk than private debt like stocks or hedge funds.

    As for Chinese goods, surely there are a lot of cheap toys with lead-based paint and the like dumped on the US market, but there are a lot of US companies that either manufacture their products in China or have them assembled there (e.g. my iPad). It makes for lower-priced electronics, and, given the fact that these are Chinese companies dealing with American companies, it’s hard to tell what these relationships are really doing to the US economy.

  9. Instead of penalizing its citizens for non-violent activism, China should put them on the next plane to the U.S..

  10. Any Chinese citizen (not including those who have done any violent crime) who disagrees with their government's policies, should be allowed to enter the U.S. with immigrant VISAS as soon as their are seats on large airlines, and, lose their Chinese citizenships.

  11. Instead of penalizing its citizens for non-violent activism, China should put them on the next plane to the U.S..

  12. Any Chinese citizen (not including those who have done any violent crime) who disagrees with their government’s policies, should be allowed to enter the U.S. with immigrant VISAS as soon as their are seats on large airlines, and, lose their Chinese citizenships.

  13. You guys most be some lunatic. Who the fuck said that this chinese women wouldn't have been similarly charged in US if she did make similar "terrorist" joke? Or do we see the evil only in others?

  14. You guys most be some lunatic. Who the fuck said that this chinese women wouldn’t have been similarly charged in US if she did make similar “terrorist” joke? Or do we see the evil only in others?