A Spreadsheet of China’s Censorship Shows the Human Toll

In China, do not question the heroes.

Last week at least seven people were detained, detained, or arrested after suspicions in the government account for the deaths of Chinese soldiers during a skirmish with Indian soldiers. Three of them are being detained for seven to 15 days. The other four face criminal charges, including a person living outside China.

“The Internet is not a lawless place,” police said, notices issued in their cases. “Condemnation of heroes and martyrs will not be tolerated.”

If it were not there, then their punishment would not have gone unnoticed. An online database Of speech crimes in China. A simple Google spreadsheet is open for all to see, it lists about 2,000 times when people were punished by the government for what they said online and offline.

The list – which links directly to publicly released judgments, police notices and official news reports over the past eight years – is far from complete. Is the most punished behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, the list reflects a government that punishes its citizens. Mildest hint of criticism. It shows how haphazard and ruthless China’s legal system is when it punishes its citizens for what they say, even if the Chinese constitution has the freedom to speak.

Dissidents sentenced in the list For long prison terms To attack the government. It tells of the petitioners, those who directly appeal to the government for wrongdoing against them, cease to make a loud commotion. About 600 people have been punished in this What did they say about kovid-19, And many others who often cursed the police after receiving a parking ticket.

The person behind the list is a little secret. In an interview, he described himself as a young man named Surname Wang. Of course, if the government finds out more about him, he could be jailed.

Mr. Wang said that he decided to compile the list after reading about the people who were punished for allegedly insulting the country during the celebrations. 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, In October 2019. Although he is young, he told me, he remembers greater freedom of expression before becoming the top leader of the Communist Party in late 2012.

“I knew that speech crimes were in China, but I never thought it was so bad,” Mr. Wang posted in August On their twitter account, Where he writes in both English and Chinese. He wrote that he was depressed after reading over 1,000 decisions.

“Big Brother is watching you,” he wrote. “I tried to look for Big Brother’s eyes and ended up finding them everywhere.”

A list of speech crimes in China in recent years, titled, detailed it with those who questioned Beijing’s official account of the June conflict. Between Chinese and Indian armies Their Disputed border in the Himalayas. The Government of India then said 20 of its soldiers were killed. Last week, the Chinese government finally said Four of its soldiers were killed.

State-run media in China called him a hero, but some had questions. One, a former journalist, asked if there had been more deaths, a question of intense interest both within and outside the country. According to the spreadsheet attached to the notice, the former journalist was charged with quarreling and inciting – a common charge against those speaking by authorities – and faces imprisonment of up to five years.

By reading the list, it becomes clear how well Mr. Xi and his government have made the Chinese Internet. Once people felt that the Internet is uncontrollable, even in China. But Mr. Xi has long viewed the Internet as a threat and a tool to direct public opinion.

“The Internet is the biggest version we’re facing,” he said in 2018 speech. “Whether or not we can win the war on the Internet will directly impact national political security.”

Liberal-Leaning Voice And Media The first to be silenced. Then the internet platform itself – the Chinese version of Twitter and YouTube, among many others – was punished for what they allowed.

Now, Chinese Internet companies brag about their ability to control content. The speeches of nationalist online users are outrageous. According to the police notice, six of the seven people who were accused of insulting the heroes and martyrs were reported by other users. In some ways, the Chinese Internet polices itself.

The Chinese police, who are widely disliked to shut people down indefinitely, are huge beneficiaries. According to the spreadsheet, people have been detained for calling the police “dog”, “robber” and “bastard”. Most are locked for only a few days, but a man inside Liaoning Province was sentenced to 10 months in prison for writing five objectionable posts on their WeChat timeline.

The petitioners are among those who suffer the most. In a spreadsheet case, a woman from Sichuan province whose son died suddenly in school and whose husband committed suicide was sentenced to three years in prison, including spreading false information. Decision The 10 articles he posted are listed in the headlines and the page views he took. The highest was 1,615 page views, while the lowest was 18.

Perhaps the most disappointing items are those who were punished for what was said about the Kovid-19 epidemic. Topping the list is Dr. Lee Wenliang, who was reprimanded on January 1, 2020, along with seven others who tried to warn the country about coronovirus. He died of the virus in early February last year and is now Remembered as a whistle-blower Who tried to warn the world about the coronovirus outbreak. But the spreadsheet lists 587 other cases.

Even cheetah skins can be considered abusive by aspiring online influencers. Two people from northwestern Shaanxi Province remembered the last rites laid for a sheep. In the video, one man cried over a picture of a sheep, while another dug a grave. He was kept in detention for 10 days for violating social customs.

But the spreadsheet also sheds light on motivational matters in which people spoke to challenge authority.

In 2018, a 19-year-old man in the northwestern city of Yinchuan decided to test a newly passed law that bans questioning and criticizing heroes and martyrs. He posted on Weibo that the two famous martyrs had meaningless deaths and wanted to see if they would be arrested, showing a lack of free speech in China. He was detained for 10 days and fined $ 70.

One person, Feng Zhuaguan, criticized Mr Xi and was accused of quarreling by the local police in Xiaomi City. He was detained for five days, but appealed after his release, arguing that the police improperly intervened in cases of possible libel between the two individuals. The local police, he argued, “do not have family militias of military bodyguards or national leaders.” The court upheld the sentence.

Nevertheless, many people pay a constant price.

Huang Zhenbao, 45, was a senior engineer at a state-owned company in the eastern city of Xuzhou. He was arrested two years ago and sentenced to 16 months in prison for insulting the national leader and damaging the national image on platforms such as Twitter. He shared a cell with more than 20 people and had to follow strict routines including toilet breaks. He and his wife lost their jobs, and he now distributes food to support their family.

In an interview, he said, “My life at the detention center reminded me of the book ‘1984’.” “Many experiences are probably worse than the plots in the book.”

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