Battlepanda: The Dark Side of China


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Dark Side of China

I have been unable to find an English language source for this, but I found this disturbing story in the China Times (a Taiwanese newspaper) yesterday about a white-collar worker who was jailed for five years for sending information over his cellphone to organize crowds for the anti-Japanese demonstrations earlier this year. Here's a rough and partial translation:
Cellphone messages has become a "fifth media" that is separate from the internet in china, poking a hole through the Chinese government's information shield. There was even a widely disseminated text that ridiculed Chinese leaders from Mao to Hu Jin Tao. The most recent example came in April 9, where demonstrators in Peking organized through cell-phone messages that spread from one to tens and from tens to hundreds. In the end, a crowd of several tens of thousands were gathered. In this instance the authoristy took no action, but in the long run, this state of affairs is unacceptable. Because they loath any non-forseeable occurances, that is, the people coming together under their very eyes while they are completely ignorant of the situation. Maybe this mentality stems from the Falun Gong demonstrations in Zongnanhai, which lead to the blanket oppression of the Falun Gong in China.

Sure enough. A week later, April 16, when Shanghai tried to copy Beijing's example, the authority cracked down. A 25 year old white collar worker, Tang Ye (汤晔), made a summary of information already available on the internet about the anti-Japanese demonstrations, including route, time, other relevant facts, and broadcasted this summary through his cellphone, resulting in his arrest under "disruption of social order" charges.

According to information from Chinese media sources in early May, this text message "resulted in serious consequences". Tong ye was sentenced to jail for five years. For a young white collar worker, five years time does not mean five years. It could thow Tong off course for the rest of his life. And all because of a cellphone text message. China's "Big Brothers" came down hard on Tong as a show of authority, to bring text messages under their sphere of influence. To tell the people of China, neither the net nor the cell-phone can be considered as no-man's-lands -- they are still under the watchful eye of Big Brother.
The current leaders of China learned well from from Mao. The way to keep a population under control is to dole out punishments that are brutal and random. You can't punish all "inflammatory" cell-phone messages. You don't need to, as long as you make an example of a few with a punishment that is horrid enough. China is a living panopticon.