Chinese social activist, Cheng Jianping, has been sentenced to “re-education” and one year of forced labor for jokingly retweeting a message microblogged by her fiance Hua Chunhui, an anti-Japanese demonstrator, which – authorities say – disrupted social order.
Mashable: The original tweet urged the protesters to smash Japan’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo; Cheng Jianping merely retweeted it, adding the words, “Charge, angry youth.”
Sources say Hua was also arrested but released five days after.
Cheng, who is now serving her sentence (we can only wonder what that entails) at the Shibali River women’s labor camp in Zhengzhou City in the midland Province Henan, has begun a hunger strike in protest of her sentence. Though, knowing how re-education camps have typically operated – or have been said to have operated – throughout the last century, one has to wonder if this is entirely necessary.
Even if Cheng whose message appears to have been broadcast to 4,854 followers and retweeted by 14 others, didn’t ‘disrupt social order,’ her conviction perhaps best displays what could be a called a very rational fear that the Chinese government has of banned services such as Twitter; services which, despite their best efforts, remain still accessible.
It’s not that Cheng disrupted social order, it’s that she had the potential to disrupt social order. Imagine if, like anything tweeted by Justin Bieber, the tweets of a few protestors became ‘endlessly retweetable.’ And though such a situation is more than unlikely, as we here in America know from living in a state of permanent panic perpetuated by constant connection to increasingly kooky conspiracies, sensational spectacles, and media coverage of this week’s latest horrifying developments in the war on terror : nothing is more frightening than what may happen… someday.